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Old 09-19-2019, 08:05 PM   #1
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Potentially pulling the trigger on my first skoolie, need advice on the price.

I've been looking at/researching skoolies for the better part of two years and actively shopping for one for the past few months. I've got a list of engine/transmission combos that would work for what we need, etc.

So, there is a 1995 Thomas International t444e with an Allison545 transmission for sale here in Florida. It has just under 100k miles on her too. I have only seen pictures/videos so far, but it looks so pristine- no rust, decent tires, sounds good running, and is occasionally driven around a driveway to keep it from being sat too long. Now my question is, the guy is asking $5,000 and I feel like that's a bit high. What do you guys think?

I've don't a lot of research on the engine/transmission and though not the greatest, it would work for what we need it to do.

Any help/advice would be appreciated! (Long day working, I'm tired so sorry for lack of more details.)
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:34 PM   #2
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If it's still just a bus, IMHO it's worth $2500 or less. Not the greatest engine for a big bus (didn't mention bus size), and the least desirable transmission in the bunch.
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:39 PM   #3
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I have to agree with Marc on this one, $5k is way too much IMHO for a '95 with a 545, regardless of size or condition.

I know the prices have been climbing over the last few years, but better deals can be found.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:17 PM   #4
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Anything been done to it?
If its still just a schoolbus in it's full trim, try negotiating the price a bit lower.
With all that has to be done to one, getting it as cheaply as possible will pay off in the long run, for many reasons.
Good luck...
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:08 AM   #5
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I paid $2500 for my 96 T444E with AT545 with some rust. If you could get it below $3500 you should be good. Very low miles on that powertrain if they are correct and it should be reliable.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lubert View Post
I've been looking at/researching skoolies for the better part of two years and actively shopping for one for the past few months. I've got a list of engine/transmission combos that would work for what we need, etc.

So, there is a 1995 Thomas International t444e with an Allison545 transmission for sale here in Florida. It has just under 100k miles on her too. I have only seen pictures/videos so far, but it looks so pristine- no rust, decent tires, sounds good running, and is occasionally driven around a driveway to keep it from being sat too long. Now my question is, the guy is asking $5,000 and I feel like that's a bit high. What do you guys think?

I've don't a lot of research on the engine/transmission and though not the greatest, it would work for what we need it to do.

Any help/advice would be appreciated! (Long day working, I'm tired so sorry for lack of more details.)
That's full blown retail price for a very lackluster drivetrain. Since Colorado is part of your "location" I'd hold out for a Cummins 8.3. Even if it meant looking for a while.

FWIW- driving "around the driveway" is probably worse for it than not running it at all. It takes a long time to get a bus up to running temp.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:26 AM   #7
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Thank you guys for the replies! I had a feeling that it was a bit too high of a price for what it was, but I just *really* want my freaking bus. I'm working on the patience thing, which will come in handy because we all know how easy it is to build a bus! Haha.

The bus is a full size, 65 passenger, so the transmission would have to work hard. I've been trying to avoid the 545, I just thought that maybe we could live with it since we aren't going to be driving it much. (Bus build in Florida, then bringing her back to Colorado where we lived. Then just running her enough to keep up maintenance.)

The seller is firm on the price, which I wasn't the happiest about. It's also had nothing done to it, still a full school bus with working stop signs and everything. All said and done, I'm following your advice and waiting for a better bus to come through!

Our biggest challenge is that we're 'po folk who's bus budget is $5,000, and we want to be able to see it in person before we buy, so we are limited to Florida, Alabama, and Georgia busses. (That budget it just for the bus, not the build, hah.)
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lubert View Post
Thank you guys for the replies! I had a feeling that it was a bit too high of a price for what it was, but I just *really* want my freaking bus. I'm working on the patience thing, which will come in handy because we all know how easy it is to build a bus! Haha.

The bus is a full size, 65 passenger, so the transmission would have to work hard. I've been trying to avoid the 545, I just thought that maybe we could live with it since we aren't going to be driving it much. (Bus build in Florida, then bringing her back to Colorado where we lived. Then just running her enough to keep up maintenance.)

The seller is firm on the price, which I wasn't the happiest about. It's also had nothing done to it, still a full school bus with working stop signs and everything. All said and done, I'm following your advice and waiting for a better bus to come through!

Our biggest challenge is that we're 'po folk who's bus budget is $5,000, and we want to be able to see it in person before we buy, so we are limited to Florida, Alabama, and Georgia busses. (That budget it just for the bus, not the build, hah.)
I live in FL and I don't bat an eye at FL buses. We have under-maintained trash thats sold for top dollar to the export market. FL is possibly the worst state to look for a bus bargain. Not saying you won't find one, but I've been into buses a long time and aside from a free bus in 2002 I've found nothing in FL worth my money or my time.
If I were you I'd wait till I was in Colorado to buy a bus. Theirs are much better outfitted and much better maintained. They actually spend money on their buses. I had one from Aurora. It was great. Paid $1700.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
That's full blown retail price for a very lackluster drivetrain. Since Colorado is part of your "location" I'd hold out for a Cummins 8.3. Even if it meant looking for a while.

FWIW- driving "around the driveway" is probably worse for it than not running it at all. It takes a long time to get a bus up to running temp.
+1

Pretty pedestrian drive train for top dollar.

I can vouch for the 8.3. It took me 18 months of looking daily and unsuccessfuly bidding on buses before I successfully bid on my Bluebird. RE, 8.3, MD-3060 and 170k miles. I am very happy that I chose to wait for the bus that I really wanted. Winning bid was $3450.

It's hard to resist the excitement of the bus you are looking at today even though it may not be the best bus for you.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:48 AM   #10
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+1

Pretty pedestrian drive train for top dollar.

I can vouch for the 8.3. It took me 18 months of looking daily and unsuccessfuly bidding on buses before I successfully bid on my Bluebird. RE, 8.3, MD-3060 and 170k miles. I am very happy that I chose to wait for the bus that I really wanted.

It's hard to resist the excitement of the bus you are looking at today even though it may not be the best bus for you.
In my years of buying vehicles I've come to learn the value of walking away.
We were recently car shopping and found my emotions trying to get in the way of logic. We ended up looking day in and day out for a couple weeks and walking away from several cars till we found just the perfect deal.
With buses I treat it like a hobby, cause it is. I buy em cheap and if I don't love em I sell and try again. Bus #5 seems like its gonna be the one we finally keep.
I've driven in Colorado and couldn't imagine doing the Rockies with a 444/545. I'm sure its fine to do so but I hate having marginal or inadequate equipment for a job.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:01 AM   #11
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In my years of buying vehicles I've come to learn the value of walking away.
We were recently car shopping and found my emotions trying to get in the way of logic. We ended up looking day in and day out for a couple weeks and walking away from several cars till we found just the perfect deal.
With buses I treat it like a hobby, cause it is. I buy em cheap and if I don't love em I sell and try again. Bus #5 seems like its gonna be the one we finally keep.
I've driven in Colorado and couldn't imagine doing the Rockies with a 444/545. I'm sure its fine to do so but I hate having marginal or inadequate equipment for a job.
Well said.

Some folks have the patience to drive a T444e/AT-545 equipped buses in the mountains without killing it. Brokedown toured the country quite successfuly in such a rig. We took a 30 mile drive to the Snake river. That was all it took to convince me that I lack the patience to own a similar rig. I love my 8.3/3060!
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:12 PM   #12
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The very combination I'm looking for. The real hard-core shopping comes in a few months.
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