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Old 08-16-2020, 09:47 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 101
Building my Fastlane

I've finally decided on a name for my bus. Fastlane. Named after the path I'm taking towards great wealth, outlined in The Millionaire Fastlane, by MJ Demarco.

I am in the Pre-Buy stage, and I know the kind of bus I want. Pre-2004 40' Conventional (aka dog-nose), highly prefer Cummins 8.3 or Navistar DT-466/530 engine with MT643, MD3060 or Allison 2000/3000 series transmission. Since 9 out of 10 buses have an AT545, which of the above transmissions can be swapped in? I don't really have a brand or badge preference, I just want to avoid the severely underpowered, swill and overengineered / proprietory, costs it's weight in gold systems from the era (especially $#!^ like MaxxForce and Catepillar parts).

I'm not looking for unicorns. I am however looking to be content with my first bus. The probability of getting my ideal (all mechanical, 80s-90s era) in my first bus is extremely unlikely, so I'll look for my ideal in my second bus. I am open to gems (buses with 'holy grail' engine and trans combo), but I am not going to wait for one.

I have funds on the way which will be my bankroll for purchasing and initial expenses (road trip to look at buses, purchase expenses, driving it home, registration which includes retitle to RV if needed, first months rent for lot storage). Max budget for purchase of bus is $5000, initial expenses budget is $2000. I want to be in my bus within 4-8 weeks of cashing the check. If I get this wrong, I don't have another $5,000 or $7,000 for a do-over.

I currently live in San Jose, CA. My inner search area is the western 11 States and my outer search area is West of the Mississippi. I'm open to conversion prepped, partial conversions, already RV registered, sold by dealer or on a lot with 20 other school buses. I am daily checking the Skoolie Classifieds forum, Select Facebook Groups, GovDeals and Public Surplus, eBay & SearchTempest.

Once the funds are in my bank account, the aggressive search begins.
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Old 08-17-2020, 03:29 AM   #2
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,614
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
I sincerely hope you find a bus that suits your needs.
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Old 08-17-2020, 08:26 AM   #3
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 14,120
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
a couple facts.



the allison AT545 (and MT643) last year of production was 2003.. Most busses 02 and newer have 2000 series or 3060 trans.. busses in the say 02-07 range have sone emissions equipment but not full on..



you can still find the cream of the crop units from the 00-03 or so asreas with non AT545 transmissions.. be vigilant and you'll find the perfect bus
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Old 08-17-2020, 11:33 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,500
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner FS-65
Engine: 7.2L Cat 3126 turbo diesel
Rated Cap: 71 passenger 30,000 gvwr
Not sure why you think the CAT engine repairs are any more costly than the others...

The MD 3060 was available as the HD option in the late 90's

I would think if you searched for a bus with that tranny it would by default only be on a better spec'd bus...

Alternately if you plan to spend the money or do the work upfront it should be very doable to find the 8.3 Cummins or DT466 and then replace the tranny with the (electronicly stand alone MD 3060)

The MT643 is only a 4sp direct drive --
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Old 08-20-2020, 08:17 PM   #5
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 101
I didn’t know the MT643 was a 4 speed. About Cat engines, I read in a thread that Caterpillar engines have more non-interchange parts, which means some parts are going to be hard to get when you need them at any price.

I’m not looking for perfect. I’m looking for good enough. Good enough for me is a 40’ conventional with a proven engine and trans, proven to be reliable and dependable with basic maintenance. A combo that makes decent power and keeps 55 MPH at less than 2000 RPM on flat land. 55 MPH puts me in the right lane on the interstate, Fastlane is about doing what others won’t so you can later do what other can’t. The reason I focus on the engine and trans so much is because I plan to travel extensively (15,000 miles a year or more) once I’m past the start-up phase. I will be able to afford to swap the engine / trans later on. I want to be able to get my bus fixed at a truck mechanic in Dawson City, YK if needed. I don’t want my Burning Man trip ruined because they can’t reflash my ECM or they can’t get a rare part in. I’m okay with EFI in my bus, as long as new injectors don’t cost a grand a piece. If I had to put the above on the grading scale (based on my knowledge), I would put it at “decent”. Please realign my expectations If I’m off.

My goal in life is to become wealthy in time, money and personal fulfillment, past the point that I do not have to think about what most things cost. I’m going to do my second bus after I’ve made myself wealthy by Fastlane Entrepreneurship. Wealth here is defined as having a net worth of 5 million dollars or more (pentamillionaire).

By setting myself up for life; I will never -need- to work again. I will be a source of joy for family and friends, because wealth and being a great person are -not- mutually exclusive. I will be able to make the impact to the world that I want to see, because some things take millions of dollars just to get the ball rolling.

Needless to say, my second bus will be my “perfect” bus as 8 figures will be able to live in whatever rig I want.
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Old 08-20-2020, 08:44 PM   #6
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 772
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30
Engine: 350 Chevy
Rated Cap: 10K
As you're most likely aware, your best bet in finding the right bus is on govdeals or another similar auction site.
Fortunately for you, the part of the country you're in is great for finding a solid, (non rusty), vehicle.
Unfortunately, it sounds like you're in a hurry to buy something.
Sometimes it is best to really research a prospective candidate before pulling the trigger on something that immediately catches your eye. Pre buy inspections are critical in not getting burned on a large purchase like a school bus.
It sounds like you have researched the vast and different bus specs out there in order to find what will work best for you. Kudos to you on that front.

Your goal of extreme wealth seems "lofty", (IMO), but if your determination is high and luck is on your side, who knows??? Without personally researching your source of information on the subject, I hope Mr. or Ms. MJ Demarco isn't steering you in the wrong direction!!!

Good luck on both of your set goals, and post pics on what you find if/when you find the perfect bus...
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Old 08-21-2020, 01:31 AM   #7
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 101
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f14/colorado-bus-auction-32617.html





Auction Closes on Monday, August 24th. Very Very sad.


Is there a reputable agency I can pay a reasonable price to look over a far away bus I’m interested in, and report back with pictures and a what they found in their visual check?

Aside from having a decent drivetrain, insulation is my other contention, specifically between the inner and outer walls.

I’ve asked this before and I’ll be concise this time. assuming you have a professional do the filling; is it a good idea to make a grid of 2 and 3 inch holes with a metal hole saw, 4” apart center-to-center on the inside sheet metal, fish out all the debris, fiberglass (if any), clean / prep the surfaces and have a professional fill the walls with slow-curing, 2-part, closed cell polyurethane? How about the ceiling? I’m imagining the holes should allow excess foam to “ooze” out, minimize voids and eliminate the chance of areas of foam not being able to cure. Once it’s cured, shave off the excess and protect the surface.

Failing that, is it advisable to cut rectangles out of the panels, leaving an inch of lip from the vertical supports? Clean, prep surfaces. Then fill or have filled with 2-part, closed cell polyurethane? I imagine the foam should behave like it’s spraying on fully open walls. Am I right?

I am extremely reluctant to break rivets as, AFAIK, once you remove rivets, it’s very difficult (and expensive) to re-rivet.

For me, Everything else in the build is just a matter of putting my money and time together.
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Old 08-21-2020, 05:23 AM   #8
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Location: California, Bay Area
Posts: 751
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fastlane View Post
Iíve asked this before and Iíll be concise this time. assuming you have a professional do the filling; is it a good idea to make a grid of 2 and 3 inch holes with a metal hole saw, 4Ē apart center-to-center on the inside sheet metal, fish out all the debris, fiberglass (if any), clean / prep the surfaces and have a professional fill the walls with slow-curing, 2-part, closed cell polyurethane? How about the ceiling? Iím imagining the holes should allow excess foam to ďoozeĒ out, minimize voids and eliminate the chance of areas of foam not being able to cure. Once itís cured, shave off the excess and protect the surface.

Failing that, is it advisable to cut rectangles out of the panels, leaving an inch of lip from the vertical supports? Clean, prep surfaces. Then fill or have filled with 2-part, closed cell polyurethane? I imagine the foam should behave like itís spraying on fully open walls. Am I right?

I am extremely reluctant to break rivets as, AFAIK, once you remove rivets, itís very difficult (and expensive) to re-rivet.

For me, Everything else in the build is just a matter of putting my money and time together.

If you are planning on having a professional do the spray foam, I suspect these would be good questions to ask said professional. From what I've heard, its not advisable to spray foam into an enclosed or semi-enclosed space, but I have zero experience or expertise.
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Old 08-29-2020, 06:52 PM   #9
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Mt Vernon, WA
Posts: 397
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Bluebird, Collins
Chassis: G30 Bluebird Microbird, E350 Shuttle Bus
Engine: 1995 Chevrolet 350, 1992 Ford 460
Iíve had 8 buses and didnít get any of them at far away auctions. Or nearby auctions for that matter. But I needed to wait and buy them as they appeared locally. Only one I bought at a dealership. The rest were on CL or I just asked about a parked bus. Oh, but I did get one on eBay and it was rusted. Even so Iím considering trying the auction route to speed it up some. Sucker for more punishment.
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Old 10-20-2020, 02:12 AM   #10
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 101
Finally have my funds.

Finally have my funds. *Begins Aggressive Bus Search Protocol* Open to posts linking to promising listings found.
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Old 10-20-2020, 03:20 AM   #11
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,614
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fastlane View Post
Finally have my funds. *Begins Aggressive Bus Search Protocol* Open to posts linking to promising listings found.
Excellent ... now the fun (and work) begins!


Earlier in your first post you wrote:
Quote:
I want to be in my bus within 4-8 weeks of cashing the check.

Does this mean yourr 4-8 week search begins now, or that you plan on having it purchased, demo'd, and converted by then?
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Old 10-22-2020, 01:36 AM   #12
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 101
I want to have my bus in less than 8 weeks, in my name and in my driveway.

Lots of outdated information looking at bus yard directories. Anybody have a recent list of dealers & bus lots in the SW & NW?

Feel free to post links to promising leads in this thread.
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Old 10-22-2020, 07:31 AM   #13
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 101
Found a listing I would like others to comment on. https://www.ebay.com/itm/264904690289

VIN Number: 1HVBAZR2PMH386822
Is it possible to distinguish the vehicles trans from the VIN? Prefer to avoid the AT545.

If I buy a bus with a preferred engine but an AT545, I want to upgrade down the road. At today's rates, What can I expect to pay for a good junkyard trans / good-great condition used trans + private residence mechanic to do the swap? Assuming proper tools & equipment to swap it myself, and a great guide, how many 4 hour time blocks will it be for someone with a intermediate understanding of vehicles?

I'm going to bed otherwise i'd comb the pictures for the spec plate.
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Old 10-22-2020, 08:32 AM   #14
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Wild Wild West
Posts: 661
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC RE
Engine: 8.3 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 84
I think I would take a hard pass for number of reasons. Mostly because it's a non-turbo. Price is way too high for that alone. 46 miles? Either the cluster has been replaced, or it as rolled over 1 million miles, or it was never used. The exhaust needs to be replaced, there are multiple pics showing pin holes along the full length. I'm not a trans expert, but I would bet dollars to donuts it's the 545. The only positive thing I can see it has going for it is the lack of rust.
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Old 10-22-2020, 08:36 AM   #15
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 14,120
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
bus is expensive.. non turbo engine, its an AT545 trans, if you dont mind flat-landing at 55 its probably a good bus.. although likely something you could find for 1000 bucks someplace else with that drivetrain..
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Old 10-22-2020, 08:39 AM   #16
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 14,120
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
doing a trans swap on that would be trying to find the nearly unobtainable spacer plate to mate a 7.3 IDI / 444 to an MT643.. or put in another AT545.. there is no engine computer so mating up an allison 2000 means youd need to fab up a throttle box and then the only input that trans has is throttle. which means lackluster shift-schedules.. meh..

not worth it espo when you could find nearly the same bus in a T444E / allison 2000 pretty readily and for less $$
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:06 PM   #17
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Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 480
Year: 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doktari View Post
Iíve had 8 buses and didnít get any of them at far away auctions. Or nearby auctions for that matter. But I needed to wait and buy them as they appeared locally. Only one I bought at a dealership. The rest were on CL or I just asked about a parked bus. Oh, but I did get one on eBay and it was rusted. Even so Iím considering trying the auction route to speed it up some. Sucker for more punishment.
Why have you had EIGHT buses??
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:35 PM   #18
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Wild Wild West
Posts: 661
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC RE
Engine: 8.3 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
Why have you had EIGHT buses??
Why not?

My son is 25 years old. He has been legally driving for 9 years, but buying and selling cars for 12 years. He has owned 23 different vehicles, including my bus before it became mine, just because he can.
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Old 10-22-2020, 01:08 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oregon
Posts: 40
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: MPV Pusher
Engine: 8.3 Cummins Mechanical
Rated Cap: 84
Fastlane. Are you Hard set on a Bonnet( hood ) Front engine..?

I have a 96 Thomas pusher 8.3 Cummins and 3060 Allison... LOVE it... also More interior Room for living.
I bought an activities bus with 128k on it. higher roof line and great under vehicle Storage. I drove it Cross country on 3 trips doing 14-16k each trip I was doing Rescue dog transports with it. Its now in process of Converting to Full time Mobile Hunt Camp. and RV play toy. I have had minimum issues with it.

Looking at your original list of things Wanted/required you've done some homework already. I too wanted a 8.3 cummins or 455 inline Big 6. for my needs and over long term reliability. I am a Mechanic by trade. My personal opinion and preferance is the Pusher. mechanicals are all in one location and driveline is stupid short over a puller.

my 2 cents.... I am in Eugene Oregon if you see something you need eyes on I can possibly go poke at it for you... shoot me a PM I will send you my contact info.

Good luck on the hunt. I looked for almost a year to find what I wanted. if its too good to be true.. it normally is... ;)
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Old 10-22-2020, 08:14 PM   #20
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 101
I am not dead set on a dog nose, however It would be a Huge Compromise to own a bus that isn’t a dog nose. What I do like about RE buses is the increase in living space to the total length.

Serviceability, engine forward is easiest to access which is what I love. I want to be able to easily swap an air compressor on the side of the Alaska highway.

Wow that bus I linked is swill.
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