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Old 02-15-2016, 09:11 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Illinois
Posts: 13
Year: 1992
Engine: dt360 5.9 L6
Picking out my bus

Hello out there I'm looking for some help buying my Skoolie
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Old 02-15-2016, 09:44 PM   #2
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Here is a must read!

So you want to buy a bus. Get edjumacated FIRST

If we are going to help you we need way more info....

Why, how, when, how many people, budget..... Where you live, do you have a CDL...... The list goes way on!
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Old 02-15-2016, 11:54 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Illinois
Posts: 13
Year: 1992
Engine: dt360 5.9 L6
Sorry I started this post and got caught up with dinner and walking the pups. Ok so heres my plan and general out line. My Lady and I plan to leave on a 8-12 month trip at the beginning of 2017. Heading south from IL then circling the states in a semi clockwise manner and would really like to also make it up into Alaska by the end of summer We have a budget of $20k which has already been put aside. As far as furnishing out the rig were going to strip it out completely, insulate floor, walls, and ceiling. Roughing in electrical before doing a car siding type ceiling. Doing a floating vinyl plank floor, natures head compost toilet, one 45 gal fresh water tank one 45 grey water tank haven't decided on water heater yet, possibly a micro distiller, 320 watt solar system, 2 way 4.5 cf nor cold fridge, pot belly stove and an alternative heating and ac system possibly a mini split (need suggestions), and generator for running that hvac system. Stove top and oven also haven't been picked out. A general guideline for what Iv been looking at would be Blue Bird Thomas or AmTran full length bus. Diesel pusher or not , Automatic Transmission (Allison md 3060 md 3000 mt 644)? turbo a plus for step grade? air/hydraulic breaks. For the past 13 years Iv been in construction so the framing/wiring/plumbing I feel good about. But I'm slacking on my engine and transmissions knowledge other then working on my car, motorcycle, and quad. Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated. I do not have a CDL and from what Iv gathered, as long as the bus is a recreational vehicle I won't need one. I was told by a bus dealer here in Il that all I would need to drive the bus of the lot without a CDL would be that the bus is painted or covered with any color other then yellow below the windows.
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Old 02-16-2016, 12:41 AM   #4
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If the bus is registered as an RV and not a bus the only driver's license you will need is a regular driver's license.

Unless you decide to go to AK via British Columbia. The BC commercial vehicle enforcement officers are pulling over and red tagging any vehicle with air brakes that does not have a driver with an air brake endorsement on their license. While it may not be necessary in your jurisdiction, it is necessary in BC and they are enforcing that requirement very vigorously.

As far as brand of bus is concerned, you will get all sorts of discussion as to which is better. Most of which is the sort of Ford vs. Chevy vs. Mopar as people defend their favorites and denigrate the others. Thomas, Blue Bird, and IC all make quality buses. The important difference for you is how well has it been maintained and is there any rust.

Almost all full size school buses since about model year 2000 have had turbo charged diesel engines, some with after coolers. For your purposes you want to be looking at the 40' Type 'D' RE buses as they will generally have the largest engines with the biggest HP ratings.

As with the bodies you will have very spirited discussions about which is the best engine. IMHO, stay away from V-type engines as they generally do not pull hills as well and generally use more fuel than inline engines even if they have similar HP and torque ratings. Also you want to stay away from the orphans like the Brazilian Ford and the Mercedes-Benz engines--good engines but hard to find parts and service for them. Cat makes good engines but they tend to cost more to keep and cost a whole lot more when something goes wrong. The IHC DT466 is probably one of the very best school bus engines out there. The big brother to it, the DT530, is a very uncommon engine but it really shows off what more cubic inches can do. The Cummins 8.3L/ISC is a very good alternative to the IHC DT engines. The Cummins 5.9L/ISB is a good little engine with emphasis on little. Even when it is pumped up it won't pull as well as the any of the DT's or the 8.3L/ISC.

Almost all of the RE buses come with air brakes. They are a much better choice for the larger buses and will cost less over time than hydraulic brakes with the only caveat about driving in British Columbia.

It may cost more but going to AZ, CO, CA, OR, or WA to purchase a bus may actually cost you less in the long run. You will find many more heavy duty option buses in the west that include big HP, pass through under the floor luggage compartments, maximum headroom, and no rust.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 02-16-2016, 05:34 AM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Farmington, IL
Posts: 180
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: AARE 3903
Engine: Cummins 6CTA 8.3
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I'm in illinois. You won't need a cdl, but if you are looking at a 40' blue bird. You will need a class B non-cdl. Nobody is exempt from a weight class.
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:51 AM   #6
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Location: Houston, Texas
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They are in Texas. All I needed for my 40' 28,000 pound BB was an ordinary TDL.
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Old 02-16-2016, 01:23 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Illinois
Posts: 13
Year: 1992
Engine: dt360 5.9 L6
So you know at what weight the class b is needed
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Old 02-16-2016, 02:14 PM   #8
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Farmington, IL
Posts: 180
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: AARE 3903
Engine: Cummins 6CTA 8.3
Rated Cap: 84
In IL class B is 26k. Class D only covers you to 16k.
Where are you located?
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Old 02-16-2016, 08:23 PM   #9
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Location: Johnstown, PA
Posts: 248
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 2000
Engine: 5.9
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Hi oneclick88, welcome aboard. It is good to have you here. I have a word of caution for you. I hope you know how much time/money will be involved in what you are planning to do. I am in the middle of my build and I can tell you it is a lot of work. Hopefully you will have some help. I am working alone and it is taking a lot of labor hours. I don't want to sound negative, I just want you to realize how long it will take you to do this before you begin. If you have questions don't hesitate to ask. I'm sure someone here will be able to help. One more thing, enjoy the build! I love working on my bus. I put the radio on and there is nobody to bother me. Just enjoy the whole process and have a nice trip.
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:17 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Illinois
Posts: 13
Year: 1992
Engine: dt360 5.9 L6
I appreciate the advise. I fully acknowledge the amount of work involved iv been doing carpentry commercial and residential for almost half my life. I'm actually in the middle of a million dollar renovation of a three story building in downtown. We are converting the second and third floor of the building into 6 two story condos. It's coming along nicely. I love working with my hands and taking on new projects.
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