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Old 09-29-2018, 09:21 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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New bus project in South Texas

Hola everyone from South Texas =)

I am not sure yet of the nomenclature but I think the bus type I am looking for is a "Type B" or "conventional". Whatever the body style with the nose out front of the windshield is called. My thinking is that the engine is much more accessible and you have some mass out front in the event of a collision.

Again I am not sure of the terminology, but I am looking for a 12 window or 40 foot bus. If possible with a chair lift at the back of the bus. If needed I think I can move the lift so that is not super critical. Bottom storage bays would be great but from what I have seen those can be added without TOO much trouble.

I have started looking for auction sites and on ebay. No luck yet. I have budgeted $3,000 for the bus and I am hoping to at least be close to that. I have a few questions--not sure if this is the correct place to post them. If not please let me know.
  1. It seems like some engine / transmission types and combinations are a lot more popular than others. Is there one (or maybe a few) in particular I should be looking for? Any I should avoid?
  2. I have seen posts discussing gearing--anything specific I should be looking for or to avoid?
  3. What is a good mileage threshold to look for? As an example, "stay away from anything over 150,000 miles" or something similar? I have seen where people suggest having a diesel mechanic look over the engine and transmission but I am not sure the auction sites allow that.
  4. The consensus on brakes seems to be to stick with air. Is that correct?
Any advice in general anyone wants to share on buying a bus would be most appreciated. Especially things to avoid.


Thanks in advance everyone =)
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Old 09-29-2018, 12:25 PM   #2
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I can't find any data showing a difference is safety from a dog nose over a flat nose. I know on a flat nose you are sitting so high off the ground that in a wreck with most vehicles they will go under you. A 40' bus will have more like 14-15 windows. Mine is 37" and has 13 windows. Drivetrain combo depends on what your use is going to be, doing a lot of freeway driving or mostly immobile. Gearing again depends on your planned usage. 250k miles is not a lot if it was well maintained.I bought one with 250K and one with 350K, the older one is definitely battle scarred more than the other. Air brakes work well and don't have the issue of moisture in the brake lines causing corrosion issues. They are a different animal, but I prefer them. Our answers will be more definitive when you tell us your plans.
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Old 09-29-2018, 02:06 PM   #3
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I can't find any data showing a difference is safety from a dog nose over a flat nose. I know on a flat nose you are sitting so high off the ground that in a wreck with most vehicles they will go under you. A 40' bus will have more like 14-15 windows. Mine is 37" and has 13 windows. Drivetrain combo depends on what your use is going to be, doing a lot of freeway driving or mostly immobile. Gearing again depends on your planned usage. 250k miles is not a lot if it was well maintained.I bought one with 250K and one with 350K, the older one is definitely battle scarred more than the other. Air brakes work well and don't have the issue of moisture in the brake lines causing corrosion issues. They are a different animal, but I prefer them. Our answers will be more definitive when you tell us your plans.

Hi Marc thank you for the reply =)

Yeah the window thing is a bit of a mystery to me. I would like at least 30 feet from the back of the drivers seat to the end of the bus so I think that 40 foot dimension for bus length is pretty close.

I intend to raise the roof. Move the chair lift to the back, widen the back door, and use it as a lift and store for a pair of trikes with the back 6 feet or so of the bus being a "garage".

Most of Texas is flat as a pancake but we hope to cover a lot of the country--maybe as far away as Alaska so for sure a lot of freeway time.

I would like to add 2k watts of solar and 20 kWh of house batteries. 200 gallons of blue water. Roof deck around 8 x 10 for watching Space X rocket launches. Maybe add a 200A alternator to the main engine for additional house battery charging if needed. That will likely kill mileage though I am sure. I might tinker together a way to disengage the second alternator when it isn't needed, (if such a thing is possible).
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Old 09-29-2018, 02:51 PM   #4
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40' is the maximum length you'll find a bus in. I also have an 8' garage in mine. I would highly recommend a flat front front engine 40' as there is more build out room inside than a 40' dog nose would give you. Mine is 37" and I have 14 windows. From the raised pedestal the engine and driver are housed in to the back of the bus I have 32"4" of build space. The 5' difference would be out in front of the bus on a dog nose and you would lose the length of the drivers compartment in build space.
Texas as well as Montana and some other states have posted speed limits of 80mph. I would look for a drivetrain that can handle extended high highway speeds. The DT466E/Allison 3060 is ideal for this.
Lifts are rated for 800lbs. You'd need some modifications to the lift to lift trikes. On the larger buses the lift is often located in the right rear side corner, ideal if using it for a lift to the garage. If you move the lift to the rear to accommodate wider vehicles you lose the use of the opening for anything but the lift.
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Old 09-29-2018, 06:59 PM   #5
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I should have been more clear on the trikes. They are electric and only weigh about 80 lbs each. My plan is to widen the lift gate slightly if needed and have both trikes clip down to the lift platform. That way they are still attached to the platform in it's full upright position and the trikes are basically then stowed as if they were hanging on the back wall. That seems like the most economical use of the space.

By having the lift on the back I save several feet of bus length. I would likely still leave the side door in place--in fact if I could find another door for the other side I would probable add it in as easy access to the electrical area.

I prefer the aesthetics of the dog buses--unless it was one of those beautiful curvy jobs like that 90 Crown that was recently posted on the unaffiliated bus list. Sadly those are about 50 miles outside of my price range.

That DT466E seems to be a pretty popular choice as I see it on a lot, (most) of the listings. Now if I could just find one within 400-500 miles in decent shape. Looks like there are several school districts having auctions in October so I am hopeful one will turn up.
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Old 09-29-2018, 09:25 PM   #6
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I love the look of the Dog Nose bus - and I find that it is a quieter ride than having the engine in the drive area (and not as hot in the summer - with the engine heat). But that is personal preference - some prefer the flat-nose. I do like how the flat-nose buses drive around town - but prefer the dog-nose when I am out on the road. I have driven the rear-engine buses - and I would say they are some of the smoothest riding buses - but have their challenges (like minimal rear access).

I am in Northern Texas right now - and just spent the summer in Montana (then drove to Virginia before Texas). I cruise at about 55MPH - I find that the bus gets much better mileage at 55MPH or lower - and I am never in a hurry to get any where... so there is no need to go faster for me. (My bus will do 80 - but my MPG will drop from about 11-14MPG down about 7 or 8MPG if I go over 60/65MPH.) My MPG does not seem to change whether I am towing my car or not...
IMG_9264.JPG

** note: I have kept track of my mileage and fuel consumption since I bought my bus - and I have gone close to 23K miles in just under a year. While my MPG estimates are based on my driving and my bus - they may not be the same for every bus... (I have a 28 foot (8-window) 210HP 7.3L V8 Turbo Diesel w/ Allison 2000).

My bus is the Green one - the Blue bus is same size - flatnose. Both have Wheelchair lift door (lifts were removed).
S26iDA2TRTashnkO%FA9kg.jpg

5F6mjPX+SZSupRAoAwXU4g.jpg
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Old 09-30-2018, 10:52 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dog Rescuer View Post
I love the look of the Dog Nose bus - and I find that it is a quieter ride than having the engine in the drive area (and not as hot in the summer - with the engine heat). But that is personal preference - some prefer the flat-nose. I do like how the flat-nose buses drive around town - but prefer the dog-nose when I am out on the road. I have driven the rear-engine buses - and I would say they are some of the smoothest riding buses - but have their challenges (like minimal rear access).

I am in Northern Texas right now - and just spent the summer in Montana (then drove to Virginia before Texas). I cruise at about 55MPH - I find that the bus gets much better mileage at 55MPH or lower - and I am never in a hurry to get any where... so there is no need to go faster for me. (My bus will do 80 - but my MPG will drop from about 11-14MPG down about 7 or 8MPG if I go over 60/65MPH.) My MPG does not seem to change whether I am towing my car or not...
Attachment 26064

** note: I have kept track of my mileage and fuel consumption since I bought my bus - and I have gone close to 23K miles in just under a year. While my MPG estimates are based on my driving and my bus - they may not be the same for every bus... (I have a 28 foot (8-window) 210HP 7.3L V8 Turbo Diesel w/ Allison 2000).

My bus is the Green one - the Blue bus is same size - flatnose. Both have Wheelchair lift door (lifts were removed).
Attachment 26062

Attachment 26063

I agree it all comes down to personal preference. I think the flat faced buses look cool as well I just personally prefer the dog nosed. In addition to being quieter and generating less heat in the cabin it seems like they would be a fair bit easier to maintain and repair.

I also would rarely feel the need to go over 55 - 60 mph. I am amazed that you can tow a car behind your bus. I once towed a car behind a 40' U-haul and it was a pretty nerve wracking experience. Probably something you get more comfortable with over time but the electric trikes we will be stowing in the garage have fairly large baskets, do about 25 mph, and have about 30+ miles of range. They also have 4" wide fat tires and are good for just about any terrain. Being charged off the solar / house battery is a plus. No gas to worry about buying / storing.

IF you don't mind, I am curious what you did with your chair lift after you pulled it off your bus? I have seen one on ebay in near new condition asking for $500. They had already pulled it off the bus tho and it was mostly a pile of parts in the picture. I am wondering if I might just be better "settling" on a bus without a lift and then buying one to add to the back door. It "seems" like the older buses at auction are not any more expensive with the lift so it would suck a bit to have to shell out for the lift if I got a bus without one.

Is your bus the same green in both of the pictures? It looks like a darker green in the first shot with the car...or just a trick of the light? HA. I just noticed your driver in the second picture. Too cool for school obviously =)
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Old 09-30-2018, 11:46 AM   #8
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Many people remove the WC lifts. They can generally be had for $100, some end up throwing them away. If it were me needing a WC lift in the back, I would find a bus with one in that location. I would not buy one with a door in the side just to move it to the back. Special modifications to the body and roof were made for the lift that will now need covering. I would not give $500 for a lift.
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Old 09-30-2018, 05:17 PM   #9
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I gave away the lift on craigslist - it took about an hour for it to leave my yard. I like having the second door in the back - It creates a nice open breeze.
I have seen them for sale for a lot - but I just wanted it gone. The place I bought the bus from had several lying around - some older some newer - that he would have given me to replace the one I took out. Look around - you can likely find one for free or very little. Though, I would get a bus with one - because then all the wiring is there for you.

The bus is the same green - "Safety Green" from ACE Hardware.



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Originally Posted by BoxGods View Post
I agree it all comes down to personal preference. I think the flat faced buses look cool as well I just personally prefer the dog nosed. In addition to being quieter and generating less heat in the cabin it seems like they would be a fair bit easier to maintain and repair.

IF you don't mind, I am curious what you did with your chair lift after you pulled it off your bus? I have seen one on ebay in near new condition asking for $500. They had already pulled it off the bus tho and it was mostly a pile of parts in the picture. I am wondering if I might just be better "settling" on a bus without a lift and then buying one to add to the back door. It "seems" like the older buses at auction are not any more expensive with the lift so it would suck a bit to have to shell out for the lift if I got a bus without one.

Is your bus the same green in both of the pictures? It looks like a darker green in the first shot with the car...or just a trick of the light? HA. I just noticed your driver in the second picture. Too cool for school obviously =)
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:45 PM   #10
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Many people remove the WC lifts. They can generally be had for $100, some end up throwing them away. If it were me needing a WC lift in the back, I would find a bus with one in that location. I would not buy one with a door in the side just to move it to the back. Special modifications to the body and roof were made for the lift that will now need covering. I would not give $500 for a lift.
I have yet to see a bus with the lift on the back. I see em at the rear on the right side sometimes. Not saying they don't make them and I am positive you would know better, just I haven't come across one yet. I am not too worried about moving the lift or making it a little wider. Not too concerned about making the door taller and wider either as I am pretty handy. I engineer and design products for a living and have access to a fairly well decked out machine and fab shop so "structural" things on the bus is a strength. The mechanical, (engine / transmission) and eletrical stuff not so much.

Now if I could just find a bus already =)
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:51 PM   #11
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I have yet to see a bus with the lift on the back. I see em at the rear on the right side sometimes. Not saying they don't make them and I am positive you would know better, just I haven't come across one yet. I am not too worried about moving the lift or making it a little wider. Not too concerned about making the door taller and wider either as I am pretty handy. I engineer and design products for a living and have access to a fairly well decked out machine and fab shop so "structural" things on the bus is a strength. The mechanical, (engine / transmission) and eletrical stuff not so much.

Now if I could just find a bus already =)
I meant find one with the WC lift in the RR corner. Many have them up the side somewhere. If I wanted a lift to access the garage, I would prefer it on the RR corner and not the back. Having it on the back door limits access there. None were made with lifts on the back because that's an emergency exit. But Skoolies have done them.
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Old 09-30-2018, 08:32 PM   #12
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I meant find one with the WC lift in the RR corner. Many have them up the side somewhere. If I wanted a lift to access the garage, I would prefer it on the RR corner and not the back. Having it on the back door limits access there. None were made with lifts on the back because that's an emergency exit. But Skoolies have done them.
The issue for me with having the door on the side is that the two trikes side by side require about 4' 4" (or 52") so by the time you come in about 18" from the back of the bus and add in say another 18" of space for the right arm of the lift you are approaching 8' for the garage. I think that is what you have planned for yours but you have that extra length to play with on your flat faced bus.

If I have the lift on the back then the trikes stow in their smallest dimension and I can make the garage as short as 4'. Access doesn't go away entirely--I just have to lower the lift. If I find a bus with the door for the lift on the side I can still leave it there also for additional access.
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:20 PM   #13
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Hola everyone from South Texas =)

I am not sure yet of the nomenclature but I think the bus type I am looking for is a "Type B" or "conventional". Whatever the body style with the nose out front of the windshield is called. My thinking is that the engine is much more accessible and you have some mass out front in the event of a collision.

Again I am not sure of the terminology, but I am looking for a 12 window or 40 foot bus. If possible with a chair lift at the back of the bus. If needed I think I can move the lift so that is not super critical. Bottom storage bays would be great but from what I have seen those can be added without TOO much trouble.

I have started looking for auction sites and on ebay. No luck yet. I have budgeted $3,000 for the bus and I am hoping to at least be close to that. I have a few questions--not sure if this is the correct place to post them. If not please let me know.
  1. It seems like some engine / transmission types and combinations are a lot more popular than others. Is there one (or maybe a few) in particular I should be looking for? Any I should avoid?
  2. I have seen posts discussing gearing--anything specific I should be looking for or to avoid?
  3. What is a good mileage threshold to look for? As an example, "stay away from anything over 150,000 miles" or something similar? I have seen where people suggest having a diesel mechanic look over the engine and transmission but I am not sure the auction sites allow that.
  4. The consensus on brakes seems to be to stick with air. Is that correct?
Any advice in general anyone wants to share on buying a bus would be most appreciated. Especially things to avoid.


Thanks in advance everyone =)
Type 'A' buses are built on van/cut-away chassis and have a driver's door with the service door next to the driver and behind the front axle. The engine is part way behind the windshield and part way in front of the windshield with a hood out front and a dog house inside. GVWR is under 14,000 lbs.

Type 'B' buses are built on a rail chassis with the service door behind the driver and behind the front axle. The engine is part way in front of and behind the windshield with a hood outside and a doghouse inside. GVWR is under 18,000 GVWR.

Type 'C' buses are also known as dog nose buses or conventional buses. They are built on a medium duty truck chassis. The service door next to the driver and behind the front axle. The engine is mostly in front of the windshield and may or may not have a dog house inside. GVWR is dependent on vehicle spe'c's and range from under 18,000 GVWR to over 26,000 GVWR. This is the most common bus made and as a consequence is usually the least expensive to purchase.

Type 'D' buses are also known as transit, pusher, puller, or flat front. The engine can be in the front next to the driver, under the floor between the axles, or behind the rear axle. The service door is next to the driver and in front of the front axle. GVWR range from under 18,000 GVWR to over 36,000 GVWR with three axles. The Type 'D' is the least common bus made and are usually heavily spec'ed. As a consequence they cost a lot more when new and command higher prices when on the used market.

1. Avoid Cat and M-B engines. They are good but tend to cost a lot more to repair and in the case of the M-B engines service, repair, and parts can be hard to find. V-8's will not pull hills as well as inline engines pull. Big HP DT466/530 and Cummins ISC/ISL engines are preferred if you are planning on trying to cruise at highway speeds. The newer Allison 1000/2000/3000 series transmissions are preferred as they have at least one OD gear enabled. In the older Allisons the AT-500 series are not as desirable as the MT-600 and HT-700 series.

2. Gearing in the low 4's is preferred with non-OD transmissions. Gearing in high 4's and low 5's with OD transmissions will give you speeds of 60-70 MPH. If your bus is geared slow it will climb hills without slowing down. If your bus is geared fast it will cruise at speed but slow down on every hill. Changing rear end ratios will not necessarily mean you will be able to go faster. It takes a certain amount of HP to push the frontal area and weight down the road. You will reach a point where there just isn't enough HP to go any faster regardless of the gearing.

3. Mileage is sort of subjective. Most school buses put on about 10K miles per year over the service life of the bus. Which means a 13-year old bus will usually have around 130K-150K miles. If it is substantially less or more you need to ask questions as to why the difference. If the bus was only used on trips and very little to/from work 200K-250K miles is going to be less wear and tear than 100K-150K if all the miles were to/from. If the mileage is way low it was either a garage queen or it was always on routes that were really short. Garage queen or short runs can be a lot harder on a bus than long runs.

4. I would NOT consider any bus with hydraulic brakes. Brake fluid is hydroscopic--it attracts water. No matter what you do the brake fluid will degrade over time and replace brake fluid with water. The more water the lower the boiling point. The lower the boiling point the more it becomes possible to boil your brake fluid away on a long downhill grade. The water in the system will also cause rust and ruin seals, pistons, and cylinders. Air brakes on the other hand are very simple, easy to adjust, and generally easier to find parts and pieces to repair.

There are a few chassis you want to avoid unless they pay you to take them away. The Ford chassis with the Brazilian Ford diesel and the Girling brakes are orphans that have a difficult time sourcing parts and pieces. Going back even older would be the big Dodge chassis. Parts for them were hard to find in 1990. Now they would be made of unobtainium.

You will also want to avoid anything newer than 2006. Emission controls were first showing up in around 2000 and 2001. Full implementation started in 2007 and for the most part the smog controls are unmitigated disasters. They are complicated, expensive, and trouble prone.
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Old 10-11-2018, 07:41 PM   #14
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Type 'A' buses are built on van/cut-away chassis and have a driver's door with the service door next to the driver and behind the front axle. The engine is part way behind the windshield and part way in front of the windshield with a hood out front and a dog house inside. GVWR is under 14,000 lbs.

Type 'B' buses are built on a rail chassis with the service door behind the driver and behind the front axle. The engine is part way in front of and behind the windshield with a hood outside and a doghouse inside. GVWR is under 18,000 GVWR.

Type 'C' buses are also known as dog nose buses or conventional buses. They are built on a medium duty truck chassis. The service door next to the driver and behind the front axle. The engine is mostly in front of the windshield and may or may not have a dog house inside. GVWR is dependent on vehicle spe'c's and range from under 18,000 GVWR to over 26,000 GVWR. This is the most common bus made and as a consequence is usually the least expensive to purchase.

Type 'D' buses are also known as transit, pusher, puller, or flat front. The engine can be in the front next to the driver, under the floor between the axles, or behind the rear axle. The service door is next to the driver and in front of the front axle. GVWR range from under 18,000 GVWR to over 36,000 GVWR with three axles. The Type 'D' is the least common bus made and are usually heavily spec'ed. As a consequence they cost a lot more when new and command higher prices when on the used market.

1. Avoid Cat and M-B engines. They are good but tend to cost a lot more to repair and in the case of the M-B engines service, repair, and parts can be hard to find. V-8's will not pull hills as well as inline engines pull. Big HP DT466/530 and Cummins ISC/ISL engines are preferred if you are planning on trying to cruise at highway speeds. The newer Allison 1000/2000/3000 series transmissions are preferred as they have at least one OD gear enabled. In the older Allisons the AT-500 series are not as desirable as the MT-600 and HT-700 series.

2. Gearing in the low 4's is preferred with non-OD transmissions. Gearing in high 4's and low 5's with OD transmissions will give you speeds of 60-70 MPH. If your bus is geared slow it will climb hills without slowing down. If your bus is geared fast it will cruise at speed but slow down on every hill. Changing rear end ratios will not necessarily mean you will be able to go faster. It takes a certain amount of HP to push the frontal area and weight down the road. You will reach a point where there just isn't enough HP to go any faster regardless of the gearing.

3. Mileage is sort of subjective. Most school buses put on about 10K miles per year over the service life of the bus. Which means a 13-year old bus will usually have around 130K-150K miles. If it is substantially less or more you need to ask questions as to why the difference. If the bus was only used on trips and very little to/from work 200K-250K miles is going to be less wear and tear than 100K-150K if all the miles were to/from. If the mileage is way low it was either a garage queen or it was always on routes that were really short. Garage queen or short runs can be a lot harder on a bus than long runs.

4. I would NOT consider any bus with hydraulic brakes. Brake fluid is hydroscopic--it attracts water. No matter what you do the brake fluid will degrade over time and replace brake fluid with water. The more water the lower the boiling point. The lower the boiling point the more it becomes possible to boil your brake fluid away on a long downhill grade. The water in the system will also cause rust and ruin seals, pistons, and cylinders. Air brakes on the other hand are very simple, easy to adjust, and generally easier to find parts and pieces to repair.

There are a few chassis you want to avoid unless they pay you to take them away. The Ford chassis with the Brazilian Ford diesel and the Girling brakes are orphans that have a difficult time sourcing parts and pieces. Going back even older would be the big Dodge chassis. Parts for them were hard to find in 1990. Now they would be made of unobtainium.

You will also want to avoid anything newer than 2006. Emission controls were first showing up in around 2000 and 2001. Full implementation started in 2007 and for the most part the smog controls are unmitigated disasters. They are complicated, expensive, and trouble prone.

WOW. Thank you so much for taking the time to post that--a TON of useful information =)
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Old 10-11-2018, 11:42 PM   #15
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box gods-- burlingame inspection.

I will see about setting up an inspection time for this.... I get squirreled easy, keep buggin me to make sure I go check this out....

william
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Old 10-12-2018, 01:50 AM   #16
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I will see about setting up an inspection time for this.... I get squirreled easy, keep buggin me to make sure I go check this out....

william

Will do and thanks again =)
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Old 10-23-2018, 01:19 PM   #17
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Well I just bought a school bus. No idea how long the page will be up after the auction but here is the link:

https://www.purplewave.com/auction/181023/item/DD6585

I have two confessions to make:

First, I always used to think it was silly when people said "I won this bus at auction". I would think to myself you didn't win it you bought it. Now after having been through an auction I totally see why people say "won". Very nerve racking.

Second. I feel like a dog who finally caught a car...woohooo...ok...what now? The bus is in Kansas and I am in Texas...how the hell am I gonna get it home =)
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Old 10-23-2018, 02:24 PM   #18
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It would appear as if you have gotten a pretty nice bus for a very reasonable price.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 10-25-2018, 04:58 PM   #19
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: topeka kansas
Posts: 588
Year: 1954
Coachwork: wayne
Chassis: old f500- new 2005 f-450
Engine: cummins 12 valve
Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
when are you

going to kansas to pick this up? If you fly into kansas city I will pick you up if you want and haul you out to the bus.
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Old 10-25-2018, 10:24 PM   #20
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EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 19,000
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoxGods View Post
Well I just bought a school bus. No idea how long the page will be up after the auction but here is the link:

https://www.purplewave.com/auction/181023/item/DD6585

I have two confessions to make:

First, I always used to think it was silly when people said "I won this bus at auction". I would think to myself you didn't win it you bought it. Now after having been through an auction I totally see why people say "won". Very nerve racking.

Second. I feel like a dog who finally caught a car...woohooo...ok...what now? The bus is in Kansas and I am in Texas...how the hell am I gonna get it home =)
Just breathe in nice and easy, and try to relax and you'll be fine.
Nerves are what have made some bus trips stressful for me and they totally don't have to be that way.
Getting a bus is a pretty fun experience once you get past the shock of it all.

Congrats, and let us know if you have any questions or anything. Oh- and try your best to try and meet Tango. He's in Houston and he's just a hell of a nice guy. Talented as all hell!
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