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Old 05-12-2015, 01:42 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: New Hampshire
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Skoolie Newbie getting ready to convert

Hello, my name is Ben, my girlfriend and I are just starting to look at skoolies for converting to a full time home. It would only be for the two of us and a small dog. We are looking to keep things fairly basic, but would like to have some luxuries like a small shower and possibly a composting toilet. We are headed to look at a bus this weekend that we don't have a whole lot of information on but have been told it is an 80s vintage international approx 72 passenger bus that has been painted green and used to be used as a shuttle for a ski mountain. Some windows need replacing, which doesn't sound too bad, I'm just hoping for minimal or no rust!
I have started doing research and I am not entirely sure which model bus we will end up with, but I am keeping an open mind to all of them. I have read that a lot of the RE buses have more interior room which sounds nice, (head room would be desirable as I am 6'2").
I am enjoying this site so far and would love to hear anything you all have to say about first time bus buying.
Thanks from NH!
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Old 05-12-2015, 01:46 PM   #2
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
You need a high headroom bus for sure.
It has less to do with engine layout and more to do with the district that ordered it when new.
We have tons of shorty high roofs here at my local yard but almost all the RE's are the lower headroom models.
I wouldn't replace the school bus windows. I'd panel over and install better windows.
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Old 05-12-2015, 01:50 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thanks EastCoastCB,
Where are you located?
I think we will need a full size bus...probably 35-40ft
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Old 05-12-2015, 01:58 PM   #4
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,172
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
I'm in beautiful, sunny Florida!
I bought a 40 footer. Once you're in it, 40 feet doesn't feel as big as it looks. We are going to live in it full time, but money is hard to come by around these parts so I do what I can when I can. The roof is getting raised. I'm about 5'10 my bus isn't a high headroom model. Someone as tall as you may want to raise the roof anyhow. Just better for comfort if going full time.
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Old 05-12-2015, 06:29 PM   #5
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All IC buses after about 2003 had as a standard 78" headroom.

Blue Bird still has it as an option.

Crown and Gillig never had anything but 78" headroom.

All others have had varying heights depending on who ordered the bus and how much they wanted to pay extra for options. Many of the older buses had 72" headroom that inched up to 74" which was the standard until IC moved it up.

Buses that have seen service in ski areas usually have floors that are really beat up. Ski boots and lots of snow on the floor can play havoc with any material given enough abuse.

As with any bus, if there is no rust a floor that is all beat up can be replaced.

The most important area of concern is the power package. An '80's vintage IHC chassis could have one of many different engines and transmissions.

It could have a gas engine from as small as an SV304 to as large as an MV446. It could have one of several different diesel engines including, but not limited to, IHC 9.0L, IHC 6.9/7.3/T444(E), IHC DT(A)(E)360/408/466/530, or a Cat 3208(T).

As for transmissions, it could have a manual transmission with 4- or 5-speeds with a single speed or two-speed rear end. Or it could have an Allison AT540, MT640, or MT650 series automatic transmission.

Regardless of what it has, before you pay for it, make sure it all works well. Unless the bus is virtually free it isn't worth nursing it home if the power package is not any good.

Good luck.
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Old 05-14-2015, 01:30 PM   #6
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Thanks cowlitzcoach
I have a little more info on the International that I will be looking at this weekend: it is a diesel, automatic and has supposedly no rust issues. It has been sitting for about 8 years and the guy that currently owns it is a fabricator and mechanic and is sure that he can get it running and driving again no problem. According to him it won't take much to get it on the road and stickered.
I am hoping all looks good with this bus, he says it's worth at least $2000. He is trying to sell his house and needs carpentry work done in exchange for the bus which is right up my alley. And on top of that has a junk yard with lots of things I would need to finish the project, so I'm really hoping it works out.
I have plans to gut the whole interior but I am going to wait before I plan too much, I would like to see it in person before I get too cranked up.
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Old 05-14-2015, 02:06 PM   #7
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If the bus has an inline diesel engine you might be okay.

If it has a V-8 diesel in it, be very careful.

If it has the 9.0L DO NOT consider it unless he pays you $2,000.00 to take it away.

If it has a 6.9/7.3/T444(E) under the hood you may want to consider it. The Gale Banks Engineering mods and upgrades for the Ford version work equally well on the IHC version. In most cases the mods and upgrades are a lot easier because there is a lot more room under the hood.

If it has a Cat 3208(T) it would all depend upon how well it runs. Most older 3208 (older as in lots of miles) tend to be mosquito foggers. Once they reach that stage there is not a lot of hope for them. If they are still tight, don't smoke, and start right up it would indicate the engine has quite a bit of life left in it.

Air brakes are preferred.

If it has hydraulic brakes it will most likely have the IHC four wheel disc brake system. Those are great brakes, easy to fix, and not especially expensive. But if it has been sitting unused as long as you say then you will need to figure on a complete overhaul of the brake system including new calipers, new master cylinder, and perhaps new rubber hoses.

If it has the older style drum brakes you will need new wheel cylinders, new master cylinder, and perhaps new rubber hoses. The drum brakes are okay but do not brake nearly as well as the better disc brake system.

All hydraulic brakes will have an electric over hydraulic booster to operate the brakes. If when you push on the brake pedal with the key off and you don't hear the electric override boosting the brakes you will have another very expensive repair to make.

Once you have evaluated the potential cost factors you will be better able to determine how good of a deal you will have. I doubt you will be able to get the price much lower than $2K since you can get almost that much out of it for scrap metal. What you need to determine is how much beyond the purchase price you will need to get the bus back to road worth status. If it starts getting above $2,000.00 you are not getting a very good deal.

By the way, tires alone will cost in the neighborhood of at least $1,500.00 and could coast $3,000.00 or more.

Let me know if I can help.

Good luck!
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Old 05-18-2015, 07:17 AM   #8
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So I have a feeling I know what you all are going to say, but thought I would upload some pics anyways. The bus has been sitting and needs some TLC. I don't know if this one is worth putting the time and money into.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_134726.jpg (313.1 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_134900.jpg (228.5 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_135513.jpg (221.5 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_134509.jpg (212.7 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_134930.jpg (193.1 KB, 6 views)
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Old 05-18-2015, 07:20 AM   #9
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some more pics..
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_134554.jpg (159.8 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_135518.jpg (129.8 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_135426.jpg (216.2 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_134427.jpg (112.9 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20150516_134535.jpg (155.2 KB, 5 views)
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Old 05-18-2015, 07:28 AM   #10
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It sounds like this bus has a decent power package with the 6.9 auto with allison trans. There are quite a few broken side windows along with the windshield and the two windows in the back door. They are all flat glass so I wouldn't be too worried about replacing them, but its just another thing on top of everything else.
The appeal of this bus is that this guy has to sell his house and has a junk yard and the bus is full of stuff I could use for the project like fresh water tanks, sinks etc and is looking to trade $2000 worth of labor (siding his horrible house and garage & painting) for the bus. Ideally I would like to start with a solid foundation for our conversion but need a little guidance on whether or not this particular bus will be worth it in the long haul. It has 111k on it, hydraulic breaks that were stiff when I pressed on the break. I didn't notice any rust coming thru the creases in the ceiling. I noticed that the body wasn't riveted but had hex head bolts or self tap screws all over - They looked original.
Thanks
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