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Old 04-12-2017, 09:26 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Question Single mom, First time school

Hello everyone,

I'm Rhonda and I am looking at getting my first bus and doing a full camper conversion. I am a single mom of two, so my main concern is reliability of the bus and minimizing major unexpected expenses. I am looking for a 4 or 5 window short bus.

Here is a link to a bus I am looking at tomorrow: the gentleman said he has records of the work done.

https://sandiego.craigslist.org/nsd/cto/6080296785.html

I have read through quite a few posts about what to look for when inspecting the bus, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

My questions:

How much should I expect to pay for a mechanically/electronically sound bus?

Is $6,000 to high? If so, what might be a fair price? It seems a little high to me, but then again, i'm new.

Should I be concerned if I am the third or fourth owner of this bus in 5 years?

Is buying from an auction, sight unseen, a good option?

Things to look for or look at while inspecting the bus? Any thing to listen for with the motor?

Milage wise, from what I read the engine can possibly go another 300,00 miles if it was taken care of. Anything I should be concerned with on the motor?


Any and all advice is welcome!!! I want to start this adventure off right and your guidance is much appreciated. Thank you!!
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Old 04-12-2017, 11:14 AM   #2
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i wouldnt buy that bus. 3rd owner is sketchy, 4th owner? and it still has seats?

run away!

buy straight from an auction. 3rd owner buses are someone's headache. i don't follow shorties but $6k sounds over valued
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Old 04-12-2017, 12:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by turf View Post
i wouldnt buy that bus. 3rd owner is sketchy, 4th owner? and it still has seats?

run away!

buy straight from an auction. 3rd owner buses are someone's headache. i don't follow shorties but $6k sounds over valued
Agreed^^
A good shorty shouldn't set you back more than $2500 or so if you watch the auction sites. NOT ebay, but Govdeals and public surplus.
AVOID the 6.0 liter Ford diesel engine like the PLAGUE. You need to be rich or an extremely talented technician or both to mess with those 6.0's.
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Old 04-12-2017, 01:05 PM   #4
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As a full-time short bus person, I've got 3 negative things to say:

1. That price is way too high.

2. Cut-away van buses aren't as durable as medium truck chassis buses. The 7.3 Ford is essentially the same engine as the T444E used in International based vehicles, but the Ford is tuned much higher and in exchange gives up longevity.

3. If you're planning to spend a lot of time in the bus, you're going to feel really really cramped. I've got my GF and our cat in ours and even with a few facilities omitted it's a tight fit.

On the positive side:

1. Its more likely to have better gearing for highway drives. My shortie cruises about 58mph.
2. It probably weighs a ton less than my shortie, being based on a much lighter chassis.
3. If you're not able to do your own mechanical work, you'll find a lot more people ready to work on a Ford than an International.

Like CB says, check the auction sites. I paid roughly retail for mine from craigslist, he bought a similar bus at auction a few months later for half what I paid.
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Old 04-12-2017, 01:35 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone.

Thanks for the advice. I will keep searching the surplus and auctions, as well as, reading the forums.

The search continues...
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:25 PM   #6
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Thumbs up

There is some good advice in this thread. Don't lose hope. It took me half a year of patient searching to find the right bus (which ended up costing less than half of what I originally thought was the "right" bus).

Quote:
Things to look for or look at while inspecting the bus?
Look for bubbles in the body that may indicate thorough corrosion. As for the engine, a proper test drive will tell you more than a visual inspection ever could.

The conversion process, at least for me, has required more thought, planning, and sweat than anticipated. Good luck, Rhonda.
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Old 04-12-2017, 04:35 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Rhonda -

A few thoughts: first (and this is a big red flag for me) avoid private sellers who employ flowery narratives and images that show more kids/dogs/landscape than the actual item that's for sale. That smacks of a pathological BS artist.

My interpretation of his "new heater core, thermostat, hoses" statement is that it really means "I had no clue when I bought it. Overheated badly on our first and only trip. Got to the repair shop, they showed me that the leaking heater core had been bypassed, had them fix that too. They said that the engine was badly overheated and will probably blow head gaskets. After getting over my shock at how much an engine rebuild costs, I'm selling it."

Good thing the tires are "full of life", right? (LOL) Call me cynical if you wish. I am!

Next, if you're really concerned with potential repair costs in the future, you may want to consider a gasoline engine instead of a diesel. Although they are generally more durable, diesel engines cost at least twice as much to work on, whether it's an oil change or a major repair. Weigh this against how much/how far you'll be driving, as diesels do much better with heavy loads and deliver nearly twice the fuel economy...

Then, that ad was in California. I'm assuming you live there? If so, be CERTAIN you understand California's absurd emission laws for older vehicles - particularly diesels.

You reached out and asked for help, which means you're way ahead of the game. We're coming into the best months for auctions. Keep an eye out, and save your pennies. Don't be afraid to bid online then drive a ways for the right deal. There are plenty of people here who might help you out if you're looking at something in another state, as would I if you were looking in Colorado.

Good luck!
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Old 04-12-2017, 04:45 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonda View Post
Hello everyone,

I'm Rhonda and I am looking at getting my first bus and doing a full camper conversion. I am a single mom of two, so my main concern is reliability of the bus and minimizing major unexpected expenses. I am looking for a 4 or 5 window short bus.

Here is a link to a bus I am looking at tomorrow: the gentleman said he has records of the work done.

https://sandiego.craigslist.org/nsd/cto/6080296785.html

I have read through quite a few posts about what to look for when inspecting the bus, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

My questions:

How much should I expect to pay for a mechanically/electronically sound bus?

Is $6,000 to high? If so, what might be a fair price? It seems a little high to me, but then again, i'm new.

Should I be concerned if I am the third or fourth owner of this bus in 5 years?

Is buying from an auction, sight unseen, a good option?

Things to look for or look at while inspecting the bus? Any thing to listen for with the motor?

Milage wise, from what I read the engine can possibly go another 300,00 miles if it was taken care of. Anything I should be concerned with on the motor?


Any and all advice is welcome!!! I want to start this adventure off right and your guidance is much appreciated. Thank you!!
Hi Rhonda and welcome!!

I agree with everyone above, walk far away from that bus. Too many miles for a shortie and the price is super high for a craigslister. If you're looking to drop that kind of cheddar on a shortie then you might want to consider a dealer.

Picking a bus is everyone's own personal recipe, you've gotta measure your:
1. needs
2. wants
3. mechanical ability(s)
4. money

If you have 4, forget 1 & 3 and do what you want, but if you are like most of us on here 1 & 3 holds the most weight. You are going to have to learn some basic maintenance and building.

There's a lot of good busses here in California but be careful of the diesel regulations. If you find "the one" call the 800 number that California has set up and have them run the vin to make sure you can register it.

Biggest take away here is do your homework and try not to get ripped off.
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Old 04-13-2017, 09:14 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
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Thanks for the welcome

Hey everybody,

Just wanted to say thanks for all the information and support. I'll keep reading the forums and get educated as best I can. I feel like I am on the right path by joining Schoolie and surrounding myself with all you knowledgable busies.

Here's to the first step in an awesome adventure.

Thanks everyone.
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Old 04-13-2017, 12:28 PM   #10
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Rhonda, If you can travel to get a bus, and enjoy long trips, Govdeal.com just listed some real nice Chevy 3500s in Tennessee. 2003s-05s, all are low miles gassers. My guess is these are what you should be looking at. I know if the timing was better for me, I'd be on one of them, like a 'duck on a June bug'.
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