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Old 06-02-2016, 11:23 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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How to approach local bus barns

I'm curious how many have kept things local and contacted their local school district's bus barns when searching for buses? It seems every school system is utilizing a fleet of some sort, and one would assume that they update that fleet ever so often.

What processes have you found to keep your search local, and to get others on the look out for a perfect project bus?

Been seeing a whole lot of Thomas and Blue Birds running around Chico.
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Old 06-02-2016, 11:29 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Hemp Bus View Post
I'm curious how many have kept things local and contacted their local school district's bus barns when searching for buses? It seems every school system is utilizing a fleet of some sort, and one would assume that they update that fleet ever so often.

What processes have you found to keep your search local, and to get others on the look out for a perfect project bus?

Been seeing a whole lot of Thomas and Blue Birds running around Chico.
You can look them up and cold call them and find out who is responsible for the bus maintenance, or you can see who the contact is when you see auctions for that area and call them and get the info. The two different cities I have talked to recently have been very receptive and open about the condition of the buses I was asking about as well as letting me know if more were coming up for auction soon when I asked.
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:06 PM   #3
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Just called up the local school district. They directed me to the specific transportation department. Apparently I was handed off to a regular shop mechanic. He didn't have much to tell me, other than they don't very often replace vehicles out of the fleet and he was not aware of any future purchases or sales going on. He recommended calling back and talking with someone who is more in the know, and I will have to end up doing that a little later. Guess, i can start mapping out surrounding school districts in the local proximity and start putting the feelers out there to see what possibilities are available.

Found a 71 passenger with a T444e, but it's all the way out in Ohio and I have no clue what the estimate fuel cost would be to drive it back home just to start the project. Probably more than the initial cost of the bus itself! Trying to stay local and patient.
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Hemp Bus View Post
Just called up the local school district. They directed me to the specific transportation department. Apparently I was handed off to a regular shop mechanic. He didn't have much to tell me, other than they don't very often replace vehicles out of the fleet and he was not aware of any future purchases or sales going on. He recommended calling back and talking with someone who is more in the know, and I will have to end up doing that a little later. Guess, i can start mapping out surrounding school districts in the local proximity and start putting the feelers out there to see what possibilities are available.

Found a 71 passenger with a T444e, but it's all the way out in Ohio and I have no clue what the estimate fuel cost would be to drive it back home just to start the project. Probably more than the initial cost of the bus itself! Trying to stay local and patient.
You're in Cali- going to OH for a crusty bus with a small engine is the opposite of what I'd do!
The buses out west are superior, man.
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:19 PM   #5
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Depending on the state and region, your local bus barn may be operated by a contractor instead of a school-owned entity. In this case it's a for profit operation where they either

(A) use the buses til there's absolutely no life left in them and they're junk by the time they get auctioned off, or
(B) sell the buses when they're still fairly new and well beyond the reach of the average skoolie.

In Wisconsin the trend has been going towards private bus companies, every year theres 2-3 school districts that throw in the towel, sell off their old buses and sign with a contractor.

I drive for one of those companies. The contract with our district has a 4 yr age clause so when the buses get older then that they're sent to a different district that doesn't have an age clause. Eventually we do sell off our really old buses but they're all rusty junk with over 200K on them. I've looked at a few that we were selling and none of them were worth it from a skoolie perspective
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:24 PM   #6
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You're in Cali- going to OH for a crusty bus with a small engine is the opposite of what I'd do!
The buses out west are superior, man.
That's kinda what I figured. There sure are plenty of them out there! Now just to pinpoint how to find the right people to ask the right questions to!
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:34 PM   #7
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You're in Cali- going to OH for a crusty bus with a small engine is the opposite of what I'd do!
The buses out west are superior, man.
The "hemp" is also superior out there!
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Old 06-02-2016, 02:19 PM   #8
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The "hemp" is also superior out there!
That's the main industry here in Northern California by quite a huge monetary margin! Have had my hands in it from time to time, but the "hemp" part of the bus, is because my wife and I have a dream bus idea of having a conversion that utilizes as near to 100% Hemp construction on the inside as possible, insulation, hemp boards, flooring, even hemp sealant etc....I read Jack Herer's The Emperor Wears No Clothes when I was a kid, and it has stuck with me ever since. After further and further advances in the world, I'm still 100% convinced that Industrial Hemp can save the world!
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Old 06-02-2016, 02:24 PM   #9
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That's the main industry here in Northern California by quite a huge monetary margin! Have had my hands in it from time to time, but the "hemp" part of the bus, is because my wife and I have a dream bus idea of having a conversion that utilizes as near to 100% Hemp construction on the inside as possible, insulation, hemp boards, flooring, even hemp sealant etc....I read Jack Herer's The Emperor Wears No Clothes when I was a kid, and it has stuck with me ever since. After further and further advances in the world, I'm still 100% convinced that Industrial Hemp can save the world!
I believe that but I also believe its recreational cousin can, too.
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Old 06-02-2016, 04:28 PM   #10
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Just cold-call the bus barn in person. Be polite, respectful, and ask if they have the time to chat. Dress neatly but not expensively. Tell them exactly what you are up to. All of it.

I have found the gentlemen in the bus barns are, almost without exception, really cool and handy folks. Once they realize your interest is genuine, you may get a few useful nuggets as to which ones are worth buying and which ones are scrap. Sometimes the district puts a gag policy in place, but their body language gives them away. As do stories: "yeah, dave left part of his finger in #77 when we did an IN-FRAME ON IT LAST YEAR..." (New motor! Whooohooo!!). Or "Kyles cousin is gonna be sad to see old #8 be sold. He owns KYLES WRECKER SERVICE..." (Beware the lemon!)

Talk to them. Busses are their lives, and they really are the unsung heros of many school districts.
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