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Old 03-26-2015, 08:39 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 21
Smile Ready to get skooled - NY Area - need advice/references

Hey there, my name is Jeff, just joined the forum a few weeks ago. My fiance and I are ready to start our skoolie adventure.

We know nothing about school buses, but will stop at nothing to make it happen. We want to do our first tour next summer in it, hopefully 6 months, cross-country. So that gives us roughly one year to purchase and convert the bus.

Our goals:
-A comfortable and livable bus home - ie. stove, washing machine, shower, toilet, bed etc.

- As large as possible living space/flex space we will use as a mobile showroom for my fiance's bohemian bridal business.

-Sustainable (as possible) design so probably go diesel so we could go veggie down the road or during conversion.

-Aesthetically pleasing and functional as micro-showroom/home- we are going to be using it at first for a promotional vehicle to do "pop-up" shops across the country for my fiance's company. So it will need to be super cool looking. Thinking of doing a "woodie" rendition of the skoolie.

What i would be ever grateful for advice/references on:

1. NY Area school bus expert - I don't know where to start when selecting the right bus to purchase and start pouring our heart and soul into . Just want to make sure we start with some good bones. If anyone has any local school bus/diesel mechanics that are trustworthy or they themselves know how to select a great bus to purchase, i am sure we could work something out to make it worth it for both of us ;) ie. I will pay someone to help me.

2. RV/Mobile Home Systems Expert - Looking for someone to work together to design the systems, electrical, plumbing, insulation, space management. want a rock solid design that fits our needs before we start the build-out/order any parts. If anyone just has great references for this that would be awesome, and i guess they dont really even need to be in NY, could be done over phone/internet. Would be awesome to find someone that has lots of experience with sustainable mobile home system design, or has done it themselves and would help someone else out for a fee.


Any advice at this point would help. Thank you thank you thank you.
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Old 03-26-2015, 08:45 PM   #2
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,136
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
Welcome, and I hope you enjoy the journey.
There are lots of nice folks on here from all over the country and even some across the ocean. You may even get by without paying a "bus expert". I'd imagine thats uber expensive in "NY Dollars". ;)
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Old 04-02-2015, 04:22 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 21
Well maybe I posted this in the wrong section. I am going to start looking at buses this weekend.

EastCoastCB could you provide any advice?

just in general, is there any "no nos" to look out for in terms of engine/transmission/manufacturers? I definitely want a full-size and plan to put a lot into it, so I just really want to make sure I get really good bones, any good advice?

For example this one: School bus

Just want to make sure its worth me going out there and looking at it. I noticed its an automatic transmission...which is really nice so others could help drive that dont know how to drive stick, but is there any major downside to that?

Thanks for anything you can help me with
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:22 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Upstate NY (Mohawk Valley)
Posts: 1,096
It's not that you posted in the wrong area, it's just that you wanted responses from the NYC metro area. There have been a handful of skoolies from there over the years, but not a lot. If you think the Bronx is "out there" from Brooklyn, I'm about 180 miles past the Bronx. It's about a 4-hour drive to Brooklyn each way at midnight, and add about 60-90 minutes for traffic in the daytime. If I'm working on Long Island through Friday, I try to hit the Whitestone or Throgg's neck by 3:00 PM for a shot at the Thruway before 5:00.

And Hex is in Buffalo, probably 8 hours each way. Some of the skoolies in southern Connecticut are probably closest to you.

About the bus:
Most buses are automatics nowadays, it is rare to find a stick. Many older buses appear to have the AT545 transmission, which has no lock-up in cruise. The torque converter is always slipping a little bit, cutting highway fuel mileage some. That doesn't mean its a no-no, but if you can find the rare older bus with a lock-up automatic transmission, it will save fuel. Check out this thread. Newer automatic transmissions probably do have lock-up in them.

I'm no diesel expert, but the 444 is in a lot of buses. It is not the most desired engine, but appears to be the most common for that age. I am assuming it is the 444E with electronic fuel injection. A lot of folks want older buses from the early 1990s or before in order to get mechanical injection. Electronic probably saves fuel, but mechanical is less complicated and may be easier to work on. And those older buses have seen more years of Northeast winter salt.

Most people who have used air brakes want them on their buses, but hydraulic brakes are familiar and require no special license endorsement.

Tires are expensive. If they are many years old, they could fail even with good tread. Try to find a guide to read the date codes on the sidewalls. The bus you linked to is only 10 years old, so you are probably OK for a while even if the tires are the original ones.

Other than that, use your sense. If something appears off, walk away or figure it into a discounted price. Only you can determine if the price is good for your budget. Some skoolies get a deal via auction on a bus right from a public school system, others pay twice as much in a private sale, and maybe 3-4 times as much from a dealer, who may or may not offer some kind of warrantee.

Good luck!
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:26 AM   #5
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Snowflake, Arizona
Posts: 324
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American Rear Engine
Engine: C-8.3-300 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 40 Prisoners
The ideal motor if your wanting to travel the country is the 8.3L Cummins followed by the DT466 International. They both have the size and power to propel a full size school bus down the road at freeway speed with ease. You will also want a turbo charged engine as they produce the same horsepower up to 10,000 foot altitude and get better fuel mileage than Naturally Aspirated engines. If you can you also want to get a 5 speed transmission (Allison 643 or MD3060) because they have overdrive
high gears (less RPM for given speed) and lock-up converters. Both the above motors are considered million mile motors. These items would be the Cadillac of drive trains to consider.Good luck on your quest.
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Old 04-03-2015, 08:26 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 21
Awesome advice, thank you.

In terms of sourcing the bus, are there resources where I can get information on the auctions or a list of sellers in my area? In other words, wheres the best place to be looking for my bus?

Also in terms of electronic injection or not, if I went non-electronic, how does this effect me in terms of registration in NY or CA for example with stringent emissions requirements? Or am I an exception because its a "RV" of sorts?

Thanks again
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:17 PM   #7
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Stony Plain Alberta Canada
Posts: 2,939
Year: 1992
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Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: 190hp 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72
I would not have a electronically injected diesel engine in a bus if you gave it to me.

I work part time in a bus shop. The wiring is a mess in every one of them. We have special tools to help us find shorts and power leaks. Without them, over half of our newer buses would be grounded.

I have seen it all. Screws into wires, panels sharp edges cutting wires, mice eat the wires, ect.

It's one thing to have a turn signal not working. That you can live with. When the engine wont start, that sucks.

Nat
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Old 04-03-2015, 07:12 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 21
Thanks Nat, I have heard similar stories from diesel truck owners, saying their new fleets they were forced to buy to meet california's new requirements are down half the time because of problems with the EFIs. I am going to make it a goal not to buy an EFI engine.

Does anyone know if buying a non-EFI creates problems with emissions in certain states?
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Old 04-04-2015, 01:36 AM   #9
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
emissions

If you're in one of those states with out of state license plates they have
no jurisdiction over you and will not haul you into an emission inspection,
it would be problematic to say the least. If you were moving to a state with
emission standards and were applying for an in state registration then they
could make things difficult. I wouldn't worry about emissions otherwise as
the Bus your driving may fall under a grandfathered statute. HTH
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:04 AM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Upstate NY (Mohawk Valley)
Posts: 1,096
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbear View Post
. . . A lot of folks want older buses from the early 1990s or before in order to get mechanical injection. . . .
If you want mechanical injection, you have got to stop looking at 2005's, and go back another 10+ years. This will save you on the purchase price, but your miscellaneous maintenance costs will go up.

A few years ago, I ran into a local guy I know who is a driver for a school district. He did complain about some "pushers" his district bought with early electronic controls, but I don't know if that applied to "dog-nosed" buses as well.

But every bus you see hauling children to school today has some type of "E" engine. Even if there are buses in the shop, there are tens of thousands more out on the road every day.

I would love a DT466 with a 9-speed stick when I get a bus. But the motor or transmission is only one part of the whole package. I would not walk away from an otherwise perfect post-1995 bus just for the fuel injection.
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