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Old 10-15-2019, 01:59 PM   #1
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New here

Hi everyone!
I been looking to own an a School Bus for long time.
My intention is to buy a School bus to follow my son in his robotics competition from school. The idea is to use the bus as a cargo bus and may be take a few kids. In the future I might convert it in to RV.
Well, I need a help....
Im located in California and I found this 2005 Frightliner Thomas with 200k miles on the clock. I don't know much about it. I attached a few pictures (posted in the web)I have intention to go and check it myself this weekend (in 4 days) and I need some info from somebody with experience.
I have mechanic skills but i never worked on a diesel engine.
Well..
How good reliable is a bus like this with 200k miles?
What problems I can find?
Do I need a special drive license to operate it?
Any help is appreciated!
Thanks.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:21 PM   #2
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Welcome,

That is a nice looking bus. However, there is a fly in the ointment. They started putting additional emissions equipment in 2004. That will make a bus more complicated, less reliable and more expensive maintenance.

Most of us avoid buses any newer than 2003.



As far as licencing goes, most states require a CDL if your GVWR is over 26k pounds or you have seating for 16 or more including the driver

Many states exempt RVs from the weight limitations if it is titled and registered as an RV.
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Old 10-15-2019, 05:51 PM   #3
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PNW_Steve, thanks for your reply.
I guess I have to keep looking for the right one.
I'm fine having a short bus too (GMC of Ford) as a platform, what do you think? Or just keep looking for a Frightliner?
I know less is more, but what about mileage on the bus? 200K is a lot?
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Old 10-15-2019, 05:51 PM   #4
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Welcome to the site, Guri.
As mentioned above, do yourself a favor and look for something 2003 and older, if diesel powered.
You'll thank us later.
Good luck...
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Old 10-15-2019, 06:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImGuri View Post
PNW_Steve, thanks for your reply.
I guess I have to keep looking for the right one.
I'm fine having a short bus too (GMC of Ford) as a platform, what do you think? Or just keep looking for a Frightliner?
I know less is more, but what about mileage on the bus? 200K is a lot?
Almost all of the big name buses are good for what we are doing.

Thomas, International, Bluebird etc.

I would suggest looking for buses 2003 or older.

200k miles is not a problem. I have seen plenty of good running buses with well over 300k miles. Lower is better though.

Where are you shopping?

There are good buses showing up on the government auction sites. I bought my 2002 Bluebird All American RE with 170k miles on it and a very good drive train. To get just what I wanted (I am picky) I bid on 20+ buses over 18 months before I was successful in winning my bus. It was worth it.

Figure out how you are going to use the bus. That should allow you to pick the features that you need. Take your check list and figure out what sort of bus will suit your needs then go shopping for that bus.

I plan on living full time in mine and traveling North America. I held out for the biggest bus, biggest engine and best transmission. I have gutted it including the interior wall and ceiling panels so that I could put in much better insulation. I am building a comfortable home that will be comfortable on the Interstates.

I have more to share but no more time. I will follow up when I get home.
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Old 10-15-2019, 07:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImGuri View Post
PNW_Steve, thanks for your reply.
I guess I have to keep looking for the right one.
I'm fine having a short bus too (GMC of Ford) as a platform, what do you think? Or just keep looking for a Frightliner?
I know less is more, but what about mileage on the bus? 200K is a lot?
200k is not a lot on a bus if well miantained. It's more than I would want to see on an 05 though.
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Old 10-15-2019, 08:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Welcome,

That is a nice looking bus. However, there is a fly in the ointment. They started putting additional emissions equipment in 2004. That will make a bus more complicated, less reliable and more expensive maintenance.

Most of us avoid buses any newer than 2003.



As far as licencing goes, most states require a CDL if your GVWR is over 26k pounds or you have seating for 16 or more including the driver

Many states exempt RVs from the weight limitations if it is titled and registered as an RV.
I have not heard of any state requiring an actual CDL if titled as an RV and GVWR is over 26K, so best to check with your state. However, there are about 8 states (including where I reside) that requires a NON-CDL Class B regardless how it is titled if GVWR is over 26K.
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Old 10-16-2019, 10:41 AM   #8
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Hi guys, thanks for the reply. I am beginning to define my needs. I want a bus with no more than 25 feet because it has to fit at the entrance of my house... now the million dollar question ... what should I look for?
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Old 10-16-2019, 11:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImGuri View Post
Hi guys, thanks for the reply. I am beginning to define my needs. I want a bus with no more than 25 feet because it has to fit at the entrance of my house... now the million dollar question ... what should I look for?
With a 25' limit you can rule out RE buses.

Short CE buses may fit in the sub 25' spec but are not terribly roomy.

An FE under 25' will give you the most living space.

I would check out the Bluebird TC100's. I think that they may fit your size limit. They are commonly available with the 5.9 Cummins and Allison AT-545. Good engine in a smaller bus. The Allison 545 is another story. Not horrible but definitely at the bottom of the list of transmissions that I would want in a cross country rig. Folks do travel the country with them but they are better suited to in town driving. A handful of folks here have swapped a better transmission, like the Allison AT-643 or 1000/2000 series, for their AT-545.

Good luck.
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Old 10-24-2019, 11:38 AM   #10
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Hey guys, I found this 1993 7.3 liter international diesel with 196,000 miles Not Turbo.
The guy ask $3K.
I'm looking for a SB that I can use to drive around but not necessary be converted in to RV.
Any feedback/recommendation?





Thanks!
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:34 AM   #11
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Bump.... any additional info here?


Thanks.
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:54 AM   #12
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THat will be the 7.3 IDI, the predecessor to the Powerstroke/T444E. It's a fine motor, durable and reliable, but not very powerful. I'd call it a good match for what it's in. The weak point I have seen on them is the glow system, they need glow at surprisingly high temperatures to start compared to most.

It may already be titled as a van, which could save you some headaches. If it's titled as a school bus, I don't believe there is a process to change it to anything other than a motorhome to avoid commercial insurance.
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Old 10-25-2019, 12:49 PM   #13
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You'll want to follow CadillacKid, he likes buses as buses and drives them that way daily as personal drivers.
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Old 10-25-2019, 02:22 PM   #14
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Start small like what you've pictured.
If you like driving it, buy something bigger if that's what you're after, later on?

Be aware that most states will not allow you to operate it as a private citizen, with the school bus insignia or other school lettering still showing.

What is your attraction to having/driving an unconverted bus?
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Old 10-25-2019, 03:08 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by peteg59 View Post
What is your attraction to having/driving an unconverted bus?
My intention is to buy a school bus to follow / take my son to his high school robotics competition. For the competition, the team must bring the robot and all the tools to fix it in the event. We usually use two pickup trucks to transport things from tools to tents and food. The idea is to use the bus as a cargo bus and be able to take some children (the school does not provide transportation). As I have the bus, I will use it as a camp / RV and in the future I could turn it into an RV.
So, what I'm looking for is a short bus (less than 25 to be able to park in my house). I am not an expert in diesel engines, but I know they are very reliable if you choose correctly.

I need some guidance to find the right bus.

Thanks.
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Old 10-25-2019, 04:13 PM   #16
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In my opinion the right bus for you is one owned by, insured by and driven by someone else.
Jack
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Old 10-25-2019, 06:53 PM   #17
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What you're describing is basically commercial use. CDL laws most likely apply.
While it would be great to have 1 vehicle that does it all, your state might have restrictions on transporting children and cargo in one vehicle.

Do research on your state's, (and any other(s)you plan on visiting), laws on transporting children before you get in this too deep financially, and as always, Good Luck in your endeavor...
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Old 10-28-2019, 10:34 AM   #18
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In my opinion the right bus for you is one owned by, insured by and driven by someone else.
Jack
I think you are absolutely right in your opinion. It may be that I have the best intention, but children are a great responsibility.
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Old 10-28-2019, 10:35 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by ol trunt View Post
In my opinion the right bus for you is one owned by, insured by and driven by someone else.
Jack
Quote:
Originally Posted by peteg59 View Post
What you're describing is basically commercial use. CDL laws most likely apply.
While it would be great to have 1 vehicle that does it all, your state might have restrictions on transporting children and cargo in one vehicle.

Do research on your state's, (and any other(s)you plan on visiting), laws on transporting children before you get in this too deep financially, and as always, Good Luck in your endeavor...

Yes, I think I have to abandon the idea of the kids, I might keep the idea to help with the stuff transportation but no kids.!!
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