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Old 03-19-2017, 02:05 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Sarasota
Posts: 68
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 3800 7.3L
Short Bus to Food Truck Conversion

Hey everyone, this is my first post and I came across this site just today while doing more research on buses. I visited BGA School Buses in Hudson, FL yesterday and spent 7 1/2 hours hanging out with the owners (Greg Sr. & Jr.). They showed me around and I drove a couple of them but they ultimately need some rust work done which will set me back a couple of weeks from purchase date if I chose one. I enjoyed my time there and they're super nice but from what I can see on the site, they may be a bit higher than what I can get.

Here's a little history to help as well; I have been a Business Analyst for a little over a decade and just had a baby who turns 1 tomorrow. I'm burnt out of the corporate world and want to start up my own venture in the food truck area. I like what this guy did in this video where he used the wheelchair door as the service window which didn't require any cutting to fit a concession window

If all goes well with the business, I'd like to get another longer bus and turn it into a Skoolie, but that wouldn't be until next year at the earliest.

This is the first one I drove that's from Virginia: 1996 International Thomas Vista T444E Allison Automatic Hydraulic Brakes 6 row@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL
It has almost 300k miles and the radiator has green liquid all over it and needs some rust work done.

This is the second one I drove: 2007 IC BE200 VT365 Diesel Hydraulic Brakes 5 Row Used bus@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL
It had brake issues and he said he put $4,500 into it so that's why the price is higher. It doesn't fit my needs though so I scratched that idea, plus I'm trying to stay under 10k for the budget.

Just before I left his son mentioned that they had another one that didn't require CDL and was a short bus but it was so dark and the battery was dead so I didn't drive it. It has a lot of rust and is from Pennsylvania so I think that one is out in my opinion.
2000 International AmTran T444E Diesel Automatic Hydraulic Brakes 5 row Florida 30 Passenger used bus@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL

Since I'm not driving it around the country, and it's only on the road from my place to the destination where I'll be serving (city streets and less than 30 miles a day), I don't need a power-horse and high miles are fine as long as I'm not constantly having to deal with problems that can't be quickly swapped out at a local auto store.

I'm continuing to browse the forums but wanted to at least post and see if anyone has experience with this type of conversion or has advice on getting one quickly as I have been out of work for 3 months and need to get going on the project since the next steps are ripping out seats, floor, adding gas lines, plumbing, hood/exhaust, air, etc.

Thanks,
Anthony
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:35 AM   #2
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Hi Anthony,
Welcome to the forum! My family and I have discussed doing this, as well. My son and son-in-law are both chefs and have wanted to do a food truck for a long time.
I'm living full time on my Skoolie while converting it.
Looking forward to seeing what you end up doing.
Sandi
www.thismidwifetravels.com


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Old 03-20-2017, 06:53 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post
Hey everyone, this is my first post and I came across this site just today while doing more research on buses. I visited BGA School Buses in Hudson, FL yesterday and spent 7 1/2 hours hanging out with the owners (Greg Sr. & Jr.). They showed me around and I drove a couple of them but they ultimately need some rust work done which will set me back a couple of weeks from purchase date if I chose one. I enjoyed my time there and they're super nice but from what I can see on the site, they may be a bit higher than what I can get.

Here's a little history to help as well; I have been a Business Analyst for a little over a decade and just had a baby who turns 1 tomorrow. I'm burnt out of the corporate world and want to start up my own venture in the food truck area. I like what this guy did in this video where he used the wheelchair door as the service window which didn't require any cutting to fit a concession window

If all goes well with the business, I'd like to get another longer bus and turn it into a Skoolie, but that wouldn't be until next year at the earliest.

This is the first one I drove that's from Virginia: 1996 International Thomas Vista T444E Allison Automatic Hydraulic Brakes 6 row@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL
It has almost 300k miles and the radiator has green liquid all over it and needs some rust work done.

This is the second one I drove: 2007 IC BE200 VT365 Diesel Hydraulic Brakes 5 Row Used bus@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL
It had brake issues and he said he put $4,500 into it so that's why the price is higher. It doesn't fit my needs though so I scratched that idea, plus I'm trying to stay under 10k for the budget.

Just before I left his son mentioned that they had another one that didn't require CDL and was a short bus but it was so dark and the battery was dead so I didn't drive it. It has a lot of rust and is from Pennsylvania so I think that one is out in my opinion.
2000 International AmTran T444E Diesel Automatic Hydraulic Brakes 5 row Florida 30 Passenger used bus@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL

Since I'm not driving it around the country, and it's only on the road from my place to the destination where I'll be serving (city streets and less than 30 miles a day), I don't need a power-horse and high miles are fine as long as I'm not constantly having to deal with problems that can't be quickly swapped out at a local auto store.

I'm continuing to browse the forums but wanted to at least post and see if anyone has experience with this type of conversion or has advice on getting one quickly as I have been out of work for 3 months and need to get going on the project since the next steps are ripping out seats, floor, adding gas lines, plumbing, hood/exhaust, air, etc.

Thanks,
Anthony
Sounds like they spent the day being nice, buttering you up, and hoping to unload what sounds like a TERRIBLE deal on some buses that don't sound very desirable at all.
AVOID the 365 engine. also RUN from rust. Especially at those laughable, silly, ridiculous prices.
I'm sure they're REALLY nice people. But If folks were coming over to my place to give me 6 times what I paid for my stuff, I'd be very VERY codial myself.
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:13 AM   #4
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the thing you'll find about BGA's busses, is likely they may be opposite of what you are going for.. they tend to have pretty mechanically sound busses but thwt have rust..

(1 of mine is from there). and as mentioned the prices are sky high.. esp comparatively to what you can get at auction.. and even higher than what they were a year ago..

for what you want to do there are a lot of good southern busses out there if you are willing to play the auctions and drive a bit to pick one up..

im not sure on florida as far as food-trucks but I know in Ohio, there is a max length that a food truck can be at a lot of food truck festivals and events, they like to pack them in pretty tight. you might look into the sign-up process for some events / fairs thast you consider as plaxces you'df attend and see what the size retrictions are to help give you an idea the max size bus you need to stay under..

the folks at BGA are super nice and very knowledgable,(I enjoy stoppiung up there and talking to them) but they are definitely geared more toward the higher budget...

ECCB will tell you (and I attest first hand) that busses run in school service locally in florida are generallty not great.. (BGA buys 95% of theirs out of state for a reason).

we SHOULD see here in another month or two many busses come on the market as spring nears and school systems put units up for sale at the end of the school year they want ot get rid of..

-Christopher
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:29 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: Sarasota
Posts: 68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
the thing you'll find about BGA's busses, is likely they may be opposite of what you are going for.. they tend to have pretty mechanically sound busses but thwt have rust..

(1 of mine is from there). and as mentioned the prices are sky high.. esp comparatively to what you can get at auction.. and even higher than what they were a year ago..

for what you want to do there are a lot of good southern busses out there if you are willing to play the auctions and drive a bit to pick one up..

im not sure on florida as far as food-trucks but I know in Ohio, there is a max length that a food truck can be at a lot of food truck festivals and events, they like to pack them in pretty tight. you might look into the sign-up process for some events / fairs thast you consider as plaxces you'df attend and see what the size retrictions are to help give you an idea the max size bus you need to stay under..

the folks at BGA are super nice and very knowledgable,(I enjoy stoppiung up there and talking to them) but they are definitely geared more toward the higher budget...

ECCB will tell you (and I attest first hand) that busses run in school service locally in florida are generallty not great.. (BGA buys 95% of theirs out of state for a reason).

we SHOULD see here in another month or two many busses come on the market as spring nears and school systems put units up for sale at the end of the school year they want ot get rid of..

-Christopher
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'm actually going to Tampa Bus Market tomorrow to check out what they have and will let you know. I went there on my way to BGA on Saturday but they were closed even though it says they're open. I'm going to call before to make sure I don't drive an hour and they're closed again.

Anyway, what do you mean about Florida buses not being great? I would figure that they wouldn't have any rust issues since there is no salt/snow to deal with, but I don't know.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:47 AM   #6
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Our schools are underfunded and overcrowded. We have one of the worst school systems in the country. They buy the lowest spec buses here and maintain them less than other states that care more about kids and schools. Like Colorado.

What about the 96 shorty in GA on GovDeals?? Its only up to 1500.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:54 AM   #7
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Join Date: May 2009
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what EC said...

i walk around a LOT down here in st pete.. and I often hear busses driving by me that you can hear have obvious mechanical issues... I guess the A/C always works since the windows are all closed but some of the engines sound rough...

not every florida bus is going to be bad.. but some are..

all we are saying is look around.. theres a ton of busses in other states that may be better and cheaper...
my bluebird shorty is from texas and has been great, EC shorty is from colorado and is super sound..

but after all they are old school busses.. they have all been beat around a bit.. so expect to have some quirks here and there to deal with.. but busses in this tampa general area see mto be much higher than what they are averaging at even other dealers..

my BGA DEV bus has served me well.. I needed a bus on a tight timeline and I had goals to meet.. I ran over 14,000 miles on it last year.. but I dare say I paid quite a bit more than I wouldve had to for a very similar bus from auction.. and I got treated super well by greg and family..

you may find exactly what you want from there or tampa bus market, all thats being mentioned is to look around and see whats out there if you are willing to drive a few miles and take a little time.. if you are on a tight time schedule for this build, then you may find one of the dealers here has a suitable bus.. that was my need last year..

-Christopher
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:06 PM   #8
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Join Date: Mar 2017
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Posts: 68
Year: 2001
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Engine: T444E 3800 7.3L
Well today at Tampa Bus Market was very successful. I only spent 1 hour as opposed to 7 over at BGA, and drove two buses. Both T444E with wheelchair doors on the back under 26k weight.

The first one is a 2002 with about 170k miles. The power steering was a bit tight and the wheel made noise every turn. He said that's an easy fix and would add more fluid. I think it drove well but may have needed an alignment since the wheel was turned a bit to the left for it to go straight. It has 2 rock chips on the windshield too so I'm not sure how much that would be to replace. https://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/bfs/6040963114.html

The second one is a 1999 with about 260k miles. It drove better but had a louder sound in the engine. When I got back from taking it on a short drive, I noticed under the bus that it looked like an oil leak. He said that he'll have his mechanic look at it and should be an easy fix too. How bad does it look? I don't know much about engines, just getting in and starting the thing.




I asked him what his price would be for them and he said $4,500 for either one.

He's getting another identical one to the 1999 in on Friday and I told him that I would be by to check it out and also see what the status is on the two I drove (power steering & oil)

What do you think? Are those major issues to worry about or would it be a safe buy? There is no rust on these which made me so happy and it's half the price of BGA which had lots of rust.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:14 PM   #9
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Still shopping retail? Looks like a couple of lackluster buses for 2x auction value.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:16 PM   #10
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We bought our bus from them also. The guy was very nice, honest and I think we got a decent deal. Could have paid less at an auction, but I was happy with the price. It was also nice to have his number handy to be able to call him on the trip back if we had any problems. All in all, a good experience...

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