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Old 07-09-2016, 09:02 AM   #1
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Major rust vs. Minor rust ( an appropriate measuring guide)

Hello Schoolie Forum Community!

I hope all is well. My name is Mr. Neal; and this post serves as both my first to this website; and to an online forum in general. With regard to a bus purchase I'm poised to make, I figured this would be an ideal time to seek some 3rd party perspective on the bus purchase I'm considering making. The bus specifications (based on what was provided by the selling company) are as follows:

Year: 2002
Model: Thomas Saf-T-Liner
Transmission: Allison
Air Brakes: NO
Mileage:
Last Route Date:
Reason for being De-Commisioned: Age & Body Condition
Sale Price: $1500 +Tax etc.
Bus Location: Wisconsin

I'm aware this very short list of details isn't enough to make a solid decision on whether to adopt this 40ft project. I'm entirely aware there's more defining details such as engine condition, transmission condition and driving condition that should aid in making that final purchase decision. However, I'm interested in gaining some perspective regarding this particular model, its year and any potential conversion obstacles etc. I'm looking to consider the GOOD, BAD & THE UGLY of the situation. I prefer the flat nose bus, the year is sufficient and I'm willing to take on the project; should it not include bringing this bus back from mechanical life support.

A little foresight regarding how the buses' exterior condition coincides with what could potentially be in need of repair internally would be helpful. The company representative stated the bus is in good working order; with mechanics having no concerns regarding its condition. My primary concern lies within the parameters of how the amount of rust a bus has factors into its overall condition; and future of use. The bus has been driven in Wisconsin's weather; where winters can be taxing on vehicles of most types. I'd like to know if this should raise significant concerns as a potential buyer of the bus. I clearly understand that a $1500 bus in most cases translates into some issues; but I'm thinking its most recent decommissioning might reflect this bus has a decent amount of life in it; and merely needs an exterior facelift and some slight tinkering with the engine.

A link to photos of the referenced bus is below. Please take into consideration I'm a conquerer of most tasks; so converting the bus won't be much of an issue. I'd simply like to be sure my decision to acquire this, or any bus, can be more guided; and less of a dice roll. For those thinking "buy new", I'm an individual whose always enjoyed investing creative and craftsman equity into projects; so buying new from both an equity and cost standpoint would'nt be ideal in this regard. Thank you in advance for your feedback; and until we correspond, take care.

*******The link to the photos is: https://s32.postimg.org/iyqfmr1ph/20...219.jpg*******

-Mr. Neal
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Old 07-09-2016, 12:50 PM   #2
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HI and welcome. My initial reaction is you'll be chasing a lot of rust. Certainly doable but very time consuming and you don't know the condition of the drivetrain. An extra grand up front can net you a cleaner bus and save you a lot of time and money in the end. Just my two cents.

Good luck!
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Old 07-09-2016, 01:28 PM   #3
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Hello Bus Fiend!

I hope all is well. Thank you for your "two cents"! Pennies add up; so your feedback is appreciated! (Smiles) You're accurate about the extra grand or so yielding a better bus; and thus an easier conversion process. Bieng that I'm located in Wisconsin, I somewhat figured rust would be inevitable unless the bus was of a more current model; or was sheltered while not being driven. Instinctively, this prompted my belief the body wouldn't be the primary sign of an unworthy conversion candidate.

In addition, I figured the pricing, work involved to repair/slow the rusting and the cost to do so would prove rewarding; and would categorize as a repair and re-purposing so to speak. So I guess the question would be does the bus have a future outside of being scrapped for parts that justifies the $1500 price point making it a decent buy?

-Mr. Neal
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Old 07-09-2016, 01:53 PM   #4
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No airbrakes, no underbelly storage. I really wish my bus had underbelly storage, I don't know how much I'm going to spend on mine but my mental budget is around $400. I don't know if I'd want to drive a 40ft bus without air brakes, they also sound awesome.
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Old 07-09-2016, 02:23 PM   #5
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Hello TAOLIK! I hope all is well. Thank you for your comment. Underbelly storage does sound convenient; with the battle between conventional brakes and air braking being preference based. Of course, the use of a bus with air brakes requires the driver to hold a CDL; whereas a bus without air brakes would'nt. This was something I considered. Regardless of which a person chooses, it makes sense to obtain a CDL either way to be prepared for any changes in the laws of any state. I definitely wish you well in your conversion endeavor; whether it be a 40ft giant, something bigger or something smaller! -Mr. Neal
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Old 07-09-2016, 02:28 PM   #6
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Hello Bus Fiend!

I hope all is well. Thank you for your "two cents"! Pennies add up; so your feedback is appreciated! (Smiles) You're accurate about the extra grand or so yielding a better bus; and thus an easier conversion process. Bieng that I'm located in Wisconsin, I somewhat figured rust would be inevitable unless the bus was of a more current model; or was sheltered while not being driven. Instinctively, this prompted my belief the body wouldn't be the primary sign of an unworthy conversion candidate.

In addition, I figured the pricing, work involved to repair/slow the rusting and the cost to do so would prove rewarding; and would categorize as a repair and re-purposing so to speak. So I guess the question would be does the bus have a future outside of being scrapped for parts that justifies the $1500 price point making it a decent buy?

-Mr. Neal
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Old 07-09-2016, 02:58 PM   #7
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If you're looking for a real challenge, then by all means, have at it. Most find converting a super clean bus to be more than enough challenge. You'll want to have good welding skills and a MIG (or TIG) welder. Deep pockets are an alternative.

With over 300k logged miles in coaches, I would not want to drive a 36k lb GVWR vehicle on hydronic brakes. Just my preference. Then again, NJ does not require a CDL for RVs with air brakes.

I suggest you makes sure the drivetrain is in very good shape before purchasing. If you're forced to do major drivetrain work, on top of major rust repair, you could be looking at a 2-year, $30+k conversion.

Just know what you're getting yourself into ahead of time so there are no excruciating surprises. Good luck!
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Old 07-09-2016, 03:34 PM   #8
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Wisconsin buses are generally a bad idea. We put so much salt on the roads in winter. Just look at all the rust on the back end.

I drive school buses in Wisconsin and I have personally seen 4 yr old buses that were already getting rust on them. They just rot into oblivion after the 10 yr mark. Once you buy that thing and strip out the interior you'll see the full extent of the damage

And besides I'd toss that one anyway, no air brakes is a pretty big deal. You will NOT need a CDL if it's going to be retitled as an RV anyways.
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Old 07-09-2016, 03:39 PM   #9
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If the bus yard and mechanics are worried about the rust it must be noteworthy.
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Old 07-09-2016, 06:01 PM   #10
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No. Just no. If it has that much visible rust it is surely a nightmare underneath. I understand the endeavor of conversion to be an enjoyable process as many of us here are inclined, but here's a question for you: Why would you want to spend many hours pursuing rust issues when you could use that same time to spend on more rewarding issues? There are relatively rust free buses available not far from Wisconsin.

As has been stated, you do not need a CDL to drive a conversion with air brakes.
As for the price point question, do you know the drivetrain components- engine and transmission?
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