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Old 05-23-2024, 08:48 AM   #1
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Buy or Not to Buy = 24" Roof Raise already

My wife and I have been dreaming of doing a school bus conversion and have been searching for the perfect deal. We found a project bus a 1998 International AMTRAN FE Alison MT 643 with only 26k mileage runs and starts great. However we have some concerns and we are new to this and the only knowledge we have is reading articles and watching videos along the way.

From what I can tell this is a pretty sought after model ( Please correct me if I'm wrong )

From the pictures I'm sharing please give us your thoughts and feedback. I've seen a lot about not doing roof raises this high as it effects center of gravity and feels more crosswinds as well as making adding a deck, solar, and fans possibly a little to high as well.

My thoughts are maybe since the amount of work has already been done that we could possibly lower it to a more acceptable height.

This is an attractive possibility as well because they are only asking 4k on the sell. The reason the project was stopped because the builder passed away and the family is selling it.

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Old 05-23-2024, 08:50 AM   #2
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Pictures of the bus

For some reason I was unable to upload the pictures in the first post so I put them in the reply
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Old 05-23-2024, 09:07 AM   #3
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Engine: DT466, Allison MT643
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If you were going to do a raise anyways than a drop shouldn't be that big a deal since it hasn't been skinned yet. Since stripping it and making a separation line has already been done there is a ton of work saved.

My 2 cents.
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Old 05-23-2024, 09:11 AM   #4
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I haven't done a roof raise, so someone can correct me, but skinning the bus after raising the frame, seems to be like 70% of the work. I don't have concerns with the height other than you have to make sure you can get the right length of steel with little waste to cover it up. If you are absolutely going to roof raise, then this is certainly a head start. I didn't roof raise because I didn't want to deal with finding insurance for one in an already dwindling market.


As far as the milage, it's more likely the instrument cluster failed and had been replaced. I have seen more buses that this has happened on than not. If the engine is electronic, then you may be able to scan the ECU for the actual miles or hours. On my bus, the wrote the milage of the bus when they replaced the odometer on a sticker on the backside.
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Old 05-23-2024, 09:29 AM   #5
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I wouldn't offer much. Every time I've stepped into a half finished project, I've almost always had to redo the "finished" part. I sympathize with the deceased's family, but this wouldn't be worth much more then scrap in my eyes. Maybe less, depending if it can be driven to the scrap yard as is. Very few will buy this as is, and that leaves very few alternatives outside of a scrapyard.

That wood floor open to the elements like that is a little worrisome. Hopefully you're in the desert southwest and not the rainforests of Oregon or swamps of Florida.

Verify with your own eyes that it has an mt643. Being the better option people will default to it without actually knowing. What engine is in it? Were the FE's ever equipped with the t444e? I think the RE's were. And yes, like fo4imtippin said, that era instrument panel is notoriously unreliable. Don't accept the mileage as is unless it's verified through an ecm check or extensive service records.
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Old 05-23-2024, 09:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fo4imtippin View Post
I haven't done a roof raise, so someone can correct me, but skinning the bus after raising the frame, seems to be like 70% of the work. I don't have concerns with the height other than you have to make sure you can get the right length of steel with little waste to cover it up. If you are absolutely going to roof raise, then this is certainly a head start. I didn't roof raise because I didn't want to deal with finding insurance for one in an already dwindling market.


As far as the milage, it's more likely the instrument cluster failed and had been replaced. I have seen more buses that this has happened on than not. If the engine is electronic, then you may be able to scan the ECU for the actual miles or hours. On my bus, the wrote the milage of the bus when they replaced the odometer on a sticker on the backside.



roof raise doesnt even look like its structurally complete yet..

I wouldnt move the bus till the structurals are done... can it be worked on there for awhile yet?


26K is likely as mentioned, not the real mileage.. if this is a 1998, there's a good chance it still has the final year of mechanical DT466 in it so no ECU.. these busses I believe were the only Place navistar continued to offer the mechanical DT after 1996 model year.... the DT466E came out in 95 and was used in most everything else starting in 95 alongside the mechanical for 95/96..


since AmTran was owned by Navistar and many schools requested the mechanical DT they allowed it through 98 on the 'Genesis' transit style bus.. at least thats how I understand it..
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Old 05-23-2024, 10:50 AM   #7
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I have a raised amtran RE and the 2 concerns i would share is 1)-Insurance !
Source and get your insurance first! It is real tough getting insurance in a raised roof, i know! Had to go thru progressive commercial and it aint cheap!

2)- my personal concern, FE busses can be loud when driving and a real PITA when doing engine work. RE are much quiter and a bit easier to work on the engine.

The real issue, again, insurance. I would look into that before you decide.
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Old 05-23-2024, 12:46 PM   #8
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Is this the same bus for sale in Round Rock?
Just saw some pics on Marketplace.

Why they made holes thru the roof to raise the bus...???
More work on sealing all that back up!

Can't tell 100% from the pics but it also looks like the roof is crooked/tilted???

$4k for the bus for me is too much but then the engine and trans are worth that if you needed an engine and tranny.

No a/c, mandatory in Texas!

I just went pricing cold roll 16ga sheet metal in Austin and there running about $200 bucks a sheet and your gonna need about 8-10 sheets to skin the bus. Plus rivets and sealant your gonna have to budget about $2500 bucks just to seal it in. forget about paying for labor, you might go broke....

Plywood floor is no issue as that needs top be removed anyway to see if you got rust on the metal floor.

I'm in Killen so if you got time and want to drive by I could show you my roof raise and fill you in on all that's involved.
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Old 05-23-2024, 02:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewo1 View Post
Is this the same bus for sale in Round Rock?
Just saw some pics on Marketplace.

Why they made holes thru the roof to raise the bus...???
More work on sealing all that back up!

Can't tell 100% from the pics but it also looks like the roof is crooked/tilted???

$4k for the bus for me is too much but then the engine and trans are worth that if you needed an engine and tranny.

No a/c, mandatory in Texas!

I just went pricing cold roll 16ga sheet metal in Austin and there running about $200 bucks a sheet and your gonna need about 8-10 sheets to skin the bus. Plus rivets and sealant your gonna have to budget about $2500 bucks just to seal it in. forget about paying for labor, you might go broke....

Plywood floor is no issue as that needs top be removed anyway to see if you got rust on the metal floor.

I'm in Killen so if you got time and want to drive by I could show you my roof raise and fill you in on all that's involved.

I think the one in round rock is ECCB's old bus which is the same drivetrain and i think a 12" roof raise which was completed enough to drive the bus.. its the same drivetrain as this one.. no holes for the raise.. it hass a transition which i think was completed... no A/C either.. but since the raise was completed and secured (not closed in though) it was driveable lomng distance..


holes on the roof in this one may have been planned to be a roof deck or something im guessing
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Old 05-23-2024, 02:28 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
I think the one in round rock is ECCB's old bus which is the same drivetrain and i think a 12" roof raise which was completed enough to drive the bus.. its the same drivetrain as this one.. no holes for the raise.. it hass a transition which i think was completed... no A/C either.. but since the raise was completed and secured (not closed in though) it was driveable lomng distance..


holes on the roof in this one may have been planned to be a roof deck or something im guessing
Here is the link to the bus, i don’t see a roof transition…

https://m.facebook.com/marketplace/i...f=search&__n=K
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Old 05-24-2024, 08:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
I think the one in round rock is ECCB's old bus which is the same drivetrain and i think a 12" roof raise which was completed enough to drive the bus.. its the same drivetrain as this one.. no holes for the raise.. it hass a transition which i think was completed... no A/C either.. but since the raise was completed and secured (not closed in though) it was driveable lomng distance..


holes on the roof in this one may have been planned to be a roof deck or something im guessing
We went 10".
My old bus is for sale, though and its in Texas I believe. I still chat with the owner from time to time he's a really nice guy.
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Old 05-25-2024, 08:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewo1 View Post
Is this the same bus for sale in Round Rock?
Just saw some pics on Marketplace.

Why they made holes thru the roof to raise the bus...???
More work on sealing all that back up!

Can't tell 100% from the pics but it also looks like the roof is crooked/tilted???

$4k for the bus for me is too much but then the engine and trans are worth that if you needed an engine and tranny.

No a/c, mandatory in Texas!

I just went pricing cold roll 16ga sheet metal in Austin and there running about $200 bucks a sheet and your gonna need about 8-10 sheets to skin the bus. Plus rivets and sealant your gonna have to budget about $2500 bucks just to seal it in. forget about paying for labor, you might go broke....

Plywood floor is no issue as that needs top be removed anyway to see if you got rust on the metal floor.

I'm in Killen so if you got time and want to drive by I could show you my roof raise and fill you in on all that's involved.
Thank you and yes it's the one in round Rock, we are and have been searching for a deal. As much as I like the guy selling this all the concerns posted here are definitely in line with what I've been thinking.
It's a dream for my wife and I to find one get it built out and raise my son on the road.
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Old 05-25-2024, 08:33 AM   #13
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We went 10".
My old bus is for sale, though and its in Texas I believe. I still chat with the owner from time to time he's a really nice guy.
Yes the owner was the gentlemans son that is selling, he got sick and passed away. I am still a little torn about buying because of all the concerns listed. If this was your bus before hand, do you know what the original miles were if it's not the 26k?
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Old 05-25-2024, 08:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
I think the one in round rock is ECCB's old bus which is the same drivetrain and i think a 12" roof raise which was completed enough to drive the bus.. its the same drivetrain as this one.. no holes for the raise.. it hass a transition which i think was completed... no A/C either.. but since the raise was completed and secured (not closed in though) it was driveable lomng distance..


holes on the roof in this one may have been planned to be a roof deck or something im guessing
I was thinking that maybe that was the case for a deck possibly.
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Old 05-25-2024, 08:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewo1 View Post
I have a raised amtran RE and the 2 concerns i would share is 1)-Insurance !
Source and get your insurance first! It is real tough getting insurance in a raised roof, i know! Had to go thru progressive commercial and it aint cheap!

2)- my personal concern, FE busses can be loud when driving and a real PITA when doing engine work. RE are much quiter and a bit easier to work on the engine.

The real issue, again, insurance. I would look into that before you decide.
Thank you and I figured that would be the case
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Old 05-25-2024, 01:58 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SladeATX View Post
Yes the owner was the gentlemans son that is selling, he got sick and passed away. I am still a little torn about buying because of all the concerns listed. If this was your bus before hand, do you know what the original miles were if it's not the 26k?
Sorry that wasn't my bus.
But I do have a solid Wanderlodge that needs love and tlc but its complete and the engine is a low mile reman. If that interests you I'm in central FL.
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Old 05-25-2024, 02:01 PM   #17
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Sorry that wasn't my bus.
But I do have a solid Wanderlodge that needs love and tlc but its complete and the engine is a low mile reman. If that interests you I'm in central FL.
I would love a link to some information and pictures please and thank you
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Old 05-29-2024, 03:18 PM   #18
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Before doing any thing on it there some neg to this Ins company’s are getting tight and stating won’t …. No Roof Raise , No wood stove , No Roof Decks & wanting to Know if a Pro is building it or U doing it as DIY Project of the start My Ins wanted 2600.00 a year to ins it gutted all seats out of it but they still stated it’s a bus Still they were going through Flow LoL but to me no thanks
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Old 05-29-2024, 03:22 PM   #19
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for a little more money a lot more coach.
https://www.wanderlodgeownersgroup.c...ad.php?t=44710
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