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rydrman 02-15-2013 02:06 PM

Advice on a Purchase
Hey folks,

This'll be my first post here so appologies if I seem to lack knowledge.

I am looking at a 1996 international carpenter (32 passenger) up here in Ontario, Canada.
The owner says it's got a 7.3 diesel and Allison 3-speed transmission (overdrive?)

It's going for a great price and seems to be in good condition. I'm wondering if you guys think its a good buy and/or if there's anything to worry about here.
I was wondering a lot about the 3-speed automatic. It must have an overdrive right? I'm worried it might not be well suited for highway travel.

I'll throw in some pictures as well

Thanks in advance!

bapos 02-15-2013 07:10 PM

Re: Advice on a Purchase
Just by the body and and engine combo I dont think you will have any issues. By the looks it seems to be driven in the north but the looks of the under carriage? Not a bad thing but rust is going to be probably your biggest issue.

Dont worry about the tranny. They are very good. I would assume its going to be a allison 545. VERY common is buses and bigger trucks. Its a good motor tranny combo.

As said I would look long and hard for rust around the body. That should be the reason to walk away from it if it has bad body rot?

Hope this helps


bus-bro 02-15-2013 09:12 PM

Re: Advice on a Purchase
It has disk brakes, which is good from what I understand. As bapos already addressed body issues, I'd add that I think you'd need to do a good under carriage component inspection. That shock looks toasted from corrosion. The U-bolts on the spring looks suspect. Things like that you might have to fix before you go camping.

If the price is right, and you have a place to park, buy it. I'd say that converting a bus is a fun project. Enjoy the blood sweat and tears, just don't throw too much money into it. When and if the project is over, remember that it's always worth it's weight in steel as scrap. The engine, transmission, etc., might be worth more than scrap.

The down side is that Canada has a more stringent vehicle inspection program than what I'm accustomed too (ah, that'd be none 8) ).

roach711 02-16-2013 01:18 PM

Re: Advice on a Purchase
Have a good look at the brakes and tires too. A set of six schoolie tires is seriously expensive. Worn out tread or cracked sidewalls means you'll be dropping a couple grand on tires right away. Sometimes you can find decent used tires.

A school bus conversion is a great way to keep you "off the streets" for a year or so. :)

Elliot Naess 02-16-2013 10:04 PM

Re: Advice on a Purchase
Welcome to the forum, Rydrman!

The transmission is probably a 4-speed.

The body is not a Carpenter, but a Blue Bird -- see the "bird" above the door. Blue Bird is a good brand.

Lots of information is available when you dig into the depths of this forum. Good luck!

crazycal 02-18-2013 03:50 PM

Re: Advice on a Purchase
Blue Bird is a much better body than Carpenter. Carpenter has problems with welds.

kotflb 02-19-2013 02:00 AM

Re: Advice on a Purchase
TEST DRIVE, TEST DRIVE & TEST DRIVE, b4 you put your money on the table. Get the bus on the road and up to operating temperature, even if you have to put in 5 or so gallons of fuel first. And while your driving, check out all the different systems such as heaters, lights, brakes, steering, transmission, etc. Once you return from your test drive, check for leaks and wet spots under the hood, inside the bus and under the bus. If the asking plus any required repairs is still a good deal, then your good to go. Otherwise you may want to continue shopping around.

rydrman 02-19-2013 10:23 AM

Re: Advice on a Purchase
Thanks for the help everyone... After looking it over some more I think it's what I need, and for it's few faults it seems to be worth at least the asking price. Now I just have to see if anyone will insure it...

Elliot Naess 02-19-2013 12:42 PM

Re: Advice on a Purchase

Originally Posted by kotflb

This is of course sound advice.

But -- since I am in the habit of trying to anticipate problems so they can be most efficiently dealt with -- test driving a bus may not be realistic.

School districts (the best source of skoolies, by far) may not allow it. Most likely, their insurance prohibits a non-employee from driving. And they would certainly require you to have the proper license and endorsements since the bus is still registered as a School Bus. (This problem goes away when you register it as a Motor Home.)

Also, if you have no experience driving such beasts, your first drive will likely be a major learning session, with little capacity left over for rationally evaluating the condition of the bus.

Again, I know I'm a habitual wet blanket, but I do believe in being prepared for the realities of life, when they occasionally crop up.

Carry on! :D

crazycal 02-19-2013 04:35 PM

Re: Advice on a Purchase
I'm going to be a wet blanket too. You live in snow country so you probably know this already but RUST SUCKS AND IT NEVER SLEEPS! I have had a few vehicles with rust and have gotten rid of them ASAP. Doing ANYTHING becomes a chore. Breaking bolts being the biggest hassle. I guess living in Cali has me spoiled. :D

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