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Old 04-12-2017, 09:21 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Question Single Mom, First Time Schoolie

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, 03:46 PM   #2
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Location: Willamina, Oregon
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Hello Rhonda

All good questions. I'm glad to see you're approaching this project with questions first.

I personally think that $6,000 price is a bit high, but then I'm spoiled because of the deals on this site found by eyes all across the country. I'm also leery of any vehicle that seems to keep changing hands without getting closer to their intended purpose.

Most of us prefer buying directly from the bus barns (school districts). This should be an excellent time of the year to purchase a bus, as prices often seem to decline between Christmas and tax season.

You should be concerned about what engine and transmission are in the buses you look at. I don't mean avoid looking at the purposed bus tomorrow. It's good if you start looking at buses in person when possible to learn about advantages of different types of buses.

If you plan on traveling interstate you are definitely going to need to paint the example bus you're intending to look at. Some states require at least 50% coverage of the school bus yellow, while other states don't allow school bus yellow on private use vehicles.

It's likely that you could find a similar bus for approximately half of the cost of this 2002 e450 by watching and reading the "Non-affiliated buses for sale thread." Deals on buses are added daily, often with discussion on good and bad points of each bus.

Most of the time buses are maintained quite well at the school district, but not all shops are the same so you do have to be aware of what to look for. Many people buy buses from the bus barn and resell them at a profit, which often appear like the e450 you're intending to look at. Your risk is reduced by buying from someone that has already gone through the bus mechanically. If that security is worth the extra money, that may be the way to go. Most of us don't see that much risk in buying from a bus barn. You don't have to buy auction vehicles sight unseen. You are allowed to view the bus prior to the auction close to evaluate its value.

Members on this site that live near you may volunteer to help you evaluate a bus that you're serious about and help you figure out a reasonable price to bid in auctions.

Naturally we like to get low mileage buses if possible, but yes these vehicle can go as much as 500,000 miles with proper maintenance and common sense. On average most of us choose buses with 150,000 miles or lower. There are many buses with lower or higher mileage that run fine. After looking at a number of buses you'll develop and ear for a good engine. You'll notice when something doesn't sound right.

Buying a bus isn't that big of a deal because it's very similar to buying a used car. Individually it is a fairly big investment for most of us to convert a bus, so most of us a pretty careful financially.

Could you be more specific about your intended use for your bus? Is this just a camping vehicle or do you intend to take long trips in it? How far do you intend to go on your build? Are you stripping the interior and insulating or going for the lighter build by just building in storage and beds?

Either way, welcome.
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Old 04-12-2017, 04:50 PM   #3
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There seems to be two of these threads. It's good to see we all agreed on that bus purchase.
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:24 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thanks for the knowledge

Hi Robin,

The camper is going to be mostly used as a weekend camper, except for longer trips in the summer. The summer trips last around 1 month.

I plan on doing a complete conversion. Insulation, bed, kitchen/refridgerator, table, storage, possibly solar panels. Not a complete off the grid bus, but a fully functioning camper, for sure.

I have some experience with woodwork and interior building. I had a 1971 VW Westfalia a few years back.

I feel comfortable tackling the build, I just don't want to buy a lemon.

Thanks for the welcome.
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Old 04-12-2017, 09:26 PM   #5
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If you find something you really like just post it here and let the guys tear it apart. You'll learn a lot that way. It's a fun process but it takes longer and is more work than most people think it is.
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