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Old 09-17-2015, 10:49 AM   #1
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3 to choose from

Hi! We are ready to buy our bus. We have 3 buses we are looking at and wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts on them or specific questions I should ask. I've been reading a ton but still feel under educated on the mechanicals of a school bus. Since we are looking for something we can stay in full time for at least a year, a well running bus is critical. Although we plan to park for months at a time, we do need to be able to cross the country in it. Okay...Here are the buses and what I know about them so far: (One I visited last week. I am going to see one on Fri & one on Sun)

1st bus: 1986 Ford (bluebird) 40 ft $5000, 180,000 miles. 8.2 Detroit Diesel engine, manual transmission. Has been partially converted. Has 30 amp shore power and a place for generator hook up. Has a food prep area, couple couches and a dining area. No additional floor insulation. Owner has had for 10 years. No mechanical work done in that time frame other than upkeep. 1st step very rusted. Did not notice any other rust. Air brakes. Tires were new when he bought it...has had about 50,000 miles on them since. Started up and ran smooth. (this is the one I visited already)

2nd bus : 1986 GMC. $4000 8 cylinder diesel. Automatic. listed as 50,000 miles 40 ft. Deck on top and on back. Awning Wired for generator. Not titles as RV but tagged as one(?) Bedroom . Sitting area. I am going to see this one Fri and unfortunately I don't have any additional information yet.

3rd bus: 1987 Thomas/International. $3700. 6 cylinder diesel. Automatic. Owner stated in an email that it was originally manual and that the school had it switched to automatic. Sink, toilet, fuse box with 110 wiring. eating area, beds in back. I am going to see this one Sunday.


I would appreciate any feedback or specific questions I should ask before making a final decision. All are listed on craigslist. I'm so excited! Can't wait to bring home our bus & start our adventure!

Wendy
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:23 AM   #2
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1st bus sounds way overpriced.
They all sound pretty high to me.
WHat area of the country are you in?
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:49 AM   #3
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Ohio. I need something that has already been gutted at least...There was another we looked at that was just gutted that the guy wanted $5000 for. Pulling the seats and such is beyond us at this point so I don't mind paying more to avoid that work. We can do most the plumbing, framing etc. When I was younger my parents had a home construction company so I have some basic construction skills but not so much metal working. I just finished reading your build thread btw. Loved your story and your bus!
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:54 AM   #4
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Thanks,
I'd try like heck to shop south of OH. Look to Kentucky, that's where I got mine. Every Ohio or Michigan bus I've seen are way rustier than I'd want to start with.
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:58 AM   #5
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I agree, unless they are in the southwest, probably have rust issues. All are overpriced for the year. In my opinion an already started conversion is not a plus and in something that old would all need to come out anyway. Ten year old tires are not a plus either, I just threw away some that were that age and weather checked to the point of being unsafe.
The second one has no title at all? I'm not a big fan of V8 Detroits.
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Old 09-17-2015, 01:39 PM   #6
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Welcome.

If pulling seats is too much work for you, just buy a motor home and forget about buying a skoolie.

I would not buy any of the buses you listed. They are all junk.

I would also never buy some one else s conversion. Most are a slapped together mess, using crappy materials, with a crappy layout.

Good luck.

Nat
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Old 09-17-2015, 04:54 PM   #7
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Welcome to the forum.

Hope you continue here, I'd like to see your progress. The deal I made for our bus included seat removal, and a few extras, saved me the trouble and hassle of disposal. Plus I like to keep our yard junk free. Even gave the HC lift to a disabled person I know, worked out great.
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Old 09-17-2015, 05:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Pulling the seats and such is beyond us at this point so I don't mind paying more to avoid that work
It really isn't that hard, just dirty work. With an angle grinder, cut the floor bolts, the rail bolts are easy to just undo. No need to crawl under the bus. If that part is too too hard, I think the rest of a conversion would be beyond you. Or pay someone to do it.
Quote:
I have some basic construction skills but not so much metal working
Unless you want there to be, there isn't all that much metal working involved, but the three buses you cited, if they have lived in Ohio,Michigan,Indiana or anywhere that they salt the roads are almost 30 years old. They are going to be rusty and or rusted out in a lot of places. That all involves metal work.

Quote:
Since we are looking for something we can stay in full time for at least a year, a well running bus is critical.
Get a bus that has just come out of service in a school district, every state has laws and inspections for school buses. Many states simply have an age limit. You are more likely to get one that doesn't really need anything. As EastcoastCB said look for something away from the oceans and south of, say I70.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but you have to be realistic about what you are going to find on Craig's list.
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Old 09-17-2015, 06:21 PM   #9
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This is just a generalization, but the CL buses I looked at were rough an seemed under-maintained. Especially compared to buses still at schools.
The CL buses are more expensive, to boot.
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:10 PM   #10
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you can get newer for cheaper, go to www.govdeals.com and look in the bus section, I have bought 2 from there, one is for sale
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