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Old 12-29-2015, 10:51 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 107
Near buying this bus.

Okay, I took my wife and kids with me to view this bus today. I even got their approval. Surprisingly enough, I had to pry the toddle out of the bus, kicking and screaming. I felt so bad, I almost bought a bus on the spot, just to appease my baby. My wife was very surprised I did not buy one, but I like to think before I buy.

Unlike some of the other members on this forum, I do not live in tow, and space is of the plenty on our farm, so that is not a concern, nor is the things that come with living in town/city/neighborhood.

Here is the bus that I am looking at, pictures are below. The blue bird tag says it is a 2000 37 passenger bus. It may have been a mistake, but they sent me information on the bus stating:

Date of MF. 10-96
INC. VEH. MFD. BY GMC Date 04-96.
GVWR 28,000

I don't think that the information above is the same bus.
While searching the bus, I did not see a placard with the bus information, and I forgot to get the VIN off of the registration sticker. Is there somewhere I missed? Usually they are above the drivers window.

The bus previously belonged to Scherts-Cibilo-Universal City School District outside of San Antonio. They have a fairly reputable maint. department, and I believe the church for which I am looking at buying it from, acquired it only a few months ago, before upgrading to a 72 passenger.

The bus is what I want, big, but not to big. A bluebird, a Gasoline engine, not too terribly old, in good shape all the way around, and in good working condition. Oh, it has almost brand new tires and ice cold dash, front, and rear ac.

Not sure yet of the transmission, but the engine is a good looking 366 tall black chevy. Good thing it has that 60 gallon tank, that means I should be able to go a good ways. I would've like a 100 gallon, but it's good enough for me!

Here are the pictures. There are a lot:




























How much of a pain is this to repair? Air is leaking where the brown air line goes into the parking brake.



What do ya'll think? Aside from engine bashing of course. I want to get my family familiar with the bus. After driving it around for a while as a bus, we should figure out whether or not is will be big enough for a travel bus, but in the mean time, I may use it as a "charter bus" and also venture class B CDL training and driving tests with it, should it be running smooth enough. Any money generated would go towards buying a newer bus for a conversion, or to convert this one if we are comfortable with it. Gonna go see it again tomorrow, so I hope to hear some responses.
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Old 12-30-2015, 09:48 AM   #2
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 107
No comments yet? That is slightly surprising. I'm hoping to hear some second opinions on the bus before I head out there again later today, and work on negotiating a price. I'll also drive her around for a bit and see how she handles.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:16 AM   #3
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Snowflake, Arizona
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Year: 1996
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American Rear Engine
Engine: C-8.3-300 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 40 Prisoners
My thoughts on the vehicle for what it's worth. I don't believe the gas
engine in these vehicles is good for much more than 200,000 miles. Do
you need a wheelchair lift? With the burden of the lift the engine is usually
left running when using the lift so the hours on the motor may be more
than the miles showing. If you buy the vehicle will it have a resale value
when your done with it or will it be a write off situation. I'm sure your toddler
will be happy no matter which bus you buy.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:22 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
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As a charter bus, I can tell you from experience, that is a non-starter. BTDT!

As a charter operator the insurance on that bus is going to cost a minimum of $1,000.00 per month. Fuel will run about $0.85 per mile. The driver will be required to have a CDL, the bus will be required to have a USDOT number, and you will have to comply with all of the USDOT/FMSCA rules and regulations pertaining to charter operations. One of the hardest areas to comply as an owner operator is the hours of work rules. Washing the bus, changing the oil, or working the phone to get work all goes down under the duty hours segment of a CDL driver. Also, if you work another job those hours goes towards your duty hours. You only get 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days. You figure out how many hours per week you would be able to drive the bus.

There is just no way in the world you can get enough work with that bus to pay for those kinds of costs.

As a potential conversion candidate, if you don't intend to go a lot of miles it won't be a bad bus. The 366 was a good school bus engine when gas was cheap. If your trips are going to be less than 100 miles one way it would be hard not to say yes to that bus. But if you intend to go 1000 miles away and include some mountains as well you would be best advised to look at another bus.

Since the bus has air brakes I would guess that the GVWR might be correct. A lot of school districts and private operators order smaller buses with heavier duty components so that the axle ends are the same as their full size buses. It makes it easier to maintain and keeps their parts inventory down. With a fleet number of 102 I would guess that it came out of a larger fleet and larger fleets tend to order vehicles with common parts.

Repair and replacement of air lines isn't hard. A lot of times it is just a matter of retightening a fitting. Don't tighten to hard or you can ruin the ferrule on the end. Since it appears as if it has plastic air lines, if the end is bad and there isn't enough slack to cut the end and reattach you can purchase the appropriate colored air line by the mile and cut if off by the foot. It is relatively easy to work with as long as it isn't sub-freezing where you are working on it.

The transmission might be an Allison MT640 series transmission since it is spe'c'ed so heavy. But it would be more normal to find an AT540 series transmission.

Good luck and happy trails.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:23 AM   #5
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonpop View Post
My thoughts on the vehicle for what it's worth. I don't believe the gas
engine in these vehicles is good for much more than 200,000 miles. Do
you need a wheelchair lift? With the burden of the lift the engine is usually
left running when using the lift so the hours on the motor may be more
than the miles showing. If you buy the vehicle will it have a resale value
when your done with it or will it be a write off situation. I'm sure your toddler
will be happy no matter which bus you buy.
I don't mind the engine, as they are simple enough to work on, and easy enough to outright replace.

The ISD had mounted standard benches over the wheelchair mounts, so at least in the past year or while it has not been actively used. And about the hours, you do realize when school buses are sitting at the school waiting for kids, or dropping them off, they're just sitting their idling? School bus engines are run a lot more than the mileage tends to show, except where the buses are turned off instead of idling.
I do not plan on selling it afterwards if I buy another bus. That was part of my first post, that if did feel this one would be comfortable enough, we would get a larger bus for a conversion. I will likely use this one for all sorts of stuff, since it is big enough to be useful, yet small enough to be easy to drive.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:39 AM   #6
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
As a charter bus, I can tell you from experience, that is a non-starter. BTDT1
Okay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
As a charter operator the insurance on that bus is going to cost a minimum of $1,000.00 per month.
Where did you get this reference from?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Fuel will run about $0.85 per mile.
Where did you get .85/mile? Please not gasoline price here is currently 1.50/gallon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
The driver will be required to have a CDL, the bus will be required to have a USDOT number, and you will have to comply with all of the USDOT/FMSCA rules and regulations pertaining to charter operations.
Yep got that, CDL driver here. I used to run a hot shot company, so I'm pretty familiar with it all, just not so much the charter side of things. TXDOT & USDOT.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
One of the hardest areas to comply as an owner operator is the hours of work rules. Washing the bus, changing the oil, or working the phone to get work all goes down under the duty hours segment of a CDL driver. Also, if you work another job those hours goes towards your duty hours.
I'll confirm all of that, but okay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
There is just no way in the world you can get enough work with that bus to pay for those kinds of costs.
Okay, I'll look into it some more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
As a potential conversion candidate, if you don't intend to go a lot of miles it won't be a bad bus. The 366 was a good school bus engine when gas was cheap. If your trips are going to be less than 100 miles one way it would be hard not to say yes to that bus. But if you intend to go 1000 miles away and include some mountains as well you would be best advised to look at another bus.
No, I live in South Central Texas, all flat land. Steepest grades are overpasses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Since the bus has air brakes I would guess that the GVWR might be correct. A lot of school districts and private operators order smaller buses with heavier duty components so that the axle ends are the same as their full size buses. It makes it easier to maintain and keeps their parts inventory down. With a fleet number of 102 I would guess that it came out of a larger fleet and larger fleets tend to order vehicles with common parts.
I understand that, and the bus has been a local bus too, not shipped around, so I know the depot that took care of it. Thought the year they gave me for the placard does not align with the bus I went to look at. Is there a place where the GVWR placard could be that I did not see?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Repair and replacement of air lines isn't hard. A lot of times it is just a matter of retightening a fitting. Don't tighten to hard or you can ruin the ferrule on the end. Since it appears as if it has plastic air lines, if the end is bad and there isn't enough slack to cut the end and reattach you can purchase the appropriate colored air line by the mile and cut if off by the foot. It is relatively easy to work with as long as it isn't sub-freezing where you are working on it.
Nope, just like I remember then. Last one I played with was on a 1980's GM fire apparatus. I generally don't play with air stuff anymore, and I thought I would post the picture I took. I'm looking into replacing the whole switch anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
The transmission might be an Allison MT640 series transmission since it is spe'c'ed so heavy. But it would be more normal to find an AT540 series transmission.
The guy I did talk to, said when they got this bus, it was supposed to have an Allison, but I hear that a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Good luck and happy trails.
It will be mostly for fun bus, or for the local churches to use. If that's too much of a pain, then I was intending on just using it for people to pass the CDL Passenger & Schoolbus endorsement driving test.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:46 AM   #7
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As usual, Cowlitz makes some really good points. That guy knows buses.


The body looks solid and the tires seem to look good. Me- I wouldn't pay more than 1200-1500 for one of those though. If its cheap I see no harm in going for it.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:49 AM   #8
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
As usual, Cowlitz makes some really good points. That guy knows buses.


The body looks solid and the tires seem to look good. Me- I wouldn't pay more than 1200-1500 for one of those though. If its cheap I see no harm in going for it.
Here around South Central Texas, bus prices are very high. There is a market for them, being next to the border, they get shipped over there in a heart beat. The common going rate for ANY bus that is drivable is between $2,000 & $3,500. Let not talk about a bus newer than 2000, that's actually nice.
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Old 12-30-2015, 11:04 AM   #9
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Engine: dt466
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Oh wow.
My first bus was a free Thomas with a gas Ford in it. There's a free International gas bus about 25 miles down the road.
Interesting to see the prices around the country.


Anyhow, I'm not here to bash on gas engines, just saying they are cheap/free around here much of the time.
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:53 PM   #10
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At a best guess that bus will do about 5 MPG. I was basing fuel costs on what fuel costs around here. At $1.50 a gallon it will be quite a bit less but that will still be $0.30 per mile.

Insurance for a bus of that size requires a minimum of $5 million liability insurance. There are only two or three companies that will write a policy for a charter bus. Lack of competition means they can charge whatever it takes. And currently it still costs most bus operators to pay $1,000.00 per month per bus for their liability insurance. Lancer Insurance is one of the few that will write a policy for a bus and they know it. The worst part of it is shopping for insurance for a commercial bus isn't like shopping for car insurance. You have to go through a broker or agent. None of the commercial insurance companies will quote a price to an individual so you have no idea as to what the insurance really costs.

If you keep the seats in the bus and use it to train or use it to pass a CDL driver's test you will have to keep insurance on the bus.
Which means you will have to keep an active USDOT number and comply with all FMSCA rules and regs. And unfortunately because it is a commercial vehicle you will have to pay commercial vehicle insurance prices. Which means you are back to Lancer.

I operated a bus company for seven years. I still have a lot of friends in the charter bus business. It isn't cheap or easy to be in the charter bus business these days.

Good luck.
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