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Old 02-19-2017, 04:51 PM   #1
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Floorplan for Thomas FS65

So we have decided on our bus (test drive pending) and it will be a 2004 Freightliner Thomas FS65 72pass conventional with the MBE 900 engine and Allison Trans. The bus appears in overall good condition for Newfoundland (most are rusted out) and has 78" headroom which was rare among the ones we viewed and allows us to avoid a roof raise, saving $$.
Attached is our Floorplan which will use our 18' travel trailer for donor parts and leaves only a water tank, water heater, shower basin, and other custom built cabinets, building materials and incidental items as needed purchases.
I'd like to hear any input that you all may have on the design layout and the bus itself as we are well educated on boats and sailing but less on building an RV...
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Old 02-19-2017, 05:00 PM   #2
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Love the bus other than the MBE900.. Many like to drink opil and they are quite spendy if you have to repair them... that said they are good running engines..
-Christopher
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Old 02-19-2017, 05:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
Love the bus other than the MBE900.. Many like to drink opil and they are quite spendy if you have to repair them... that said they are good running engines..
-Christopher
Hi Christopher, thanks for the input, I was weary of the MBE based on posts here but my alternatives (after several weeks of searching) were a CE300 with the emissions compliance 466 (and an existing electrical issue) or a couple of older TC2000s but they have 6' ceilings and a lot more rust...

I'm hoping that the owner's opinion stays true (he says he's had fewer issues with this bus specifically than any of his others and says between oil changes (8000km) it only loses 1 quart...
I also work in a auto dealer group that owns a Mercedes store and I have a very friendly and knowledgeable private mechanic so I'm going to cross my fingers and hope it works out lol (it helps that I believe I can get the bus for $3500...)
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Old 02-19-2017, 06:47 PM   #4
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I imagine you don't have a lot of options being in Newfoundland, can't be that many school buses for sale up there!

It's nice that you found one of the Thomas buses with the high roof factory option.

Hopefully the MBE doesn't give you too much trouble, I know a lot of people here pass on those buses due to the lack of parts, etc.
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Old 02-19-2017, 06:55 PM   #5
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I imagine you don't have a lot of options being in Newfoundland, can't be that many school buses for sale up there!

It's nice that you found one of the Thomas buses with the high roof factory option.

Hopefully the MBE doesn't give you too much trouble, I know a lot of people here pass on those buses due to the lack of parts, etc.
On the entire island there were 3 individuals selling busses (our school boards privatized bussing decades ago) so yes you could say our search has been limited (plus it would cost over $1000 just to get a bus here from Nova Scotia let alone further inland or in the U.S.) I think I'm kind of taking the chance on the motor just based on the owner's positive experience with it and also the fact that every other aspect of the bus suits our plan perfectly.
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Old 02-19-2017, 07:03 PM   #6
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I believe we just bought the same bus in VA, only 2005 model year. The MB powertrain sounds fantastic and just made the 1,000 mile trip here and ran perfect.
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Old 02-19-2017, 07:09 PM   #7
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I believe we just bought the same bus in VA, only 2005 model year. The MB powertrain sounds fantastic and just made the 1,000 mile trip here and ran perfect.
Glad to hear another positive view of the bus! Are you planning a camper type or live-in conversion? Would be excited to see pics as you go!
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Old 02-19-2017, 07:31 PM   #8
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it'll be a motor home used for outreach ministry trips of days to weeks long.
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Old 02-19-2017, 08:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysSunny View Post
Hi Christopher, thanks for the input, I was weary of the MBE based on posts here but my alternatives (after several weeks of searching) were a CE300 with the emissions compliance 466 (and an existing electrical issue) or a couple of older TC2000s but they have 6' ceilings and a lot more rust...

I'm hoping that the owner's opinion stays true (he says he's had fewer issues with this bus specifically than any of his others and says between oil changes (8000km) it only loses 1 quart...
I also work in a auto dealer group that owns a Mercedes store and I have a very friendly and knowledgeable private mechanic so I'm going to cross my fingers and hope it works out lol (it helps that I believe I can get the bus for $3500...)

true that.. and sounds like the bus had good care.. that goes a long way toward a long lasting drivetrain....

I guess i kinda did the same.. people here said dont buy a AT545 trans... and others said by a DT-360/466 dont buiy a T-444E..

well ive got 2 AT545s, a DT and a T444E. and I just racked over 4000 miles on the 444E bus with At545 since i got it in the fall and my other one with a DT and AT545 I ran over 13000 miles last year...

so here's to you having good drivetrain luck like I have despite the posts against it!
-Christopher
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Old 02-21-2017, 09:11 AM   #10
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I almost bought a MBE 900 engine but found out the bus wasn't eligible to import because the seats had been torn out. Ended up on a Cummins ISB 5.9 engine which cost me about $1000 cdn in repairs on the way home.

Personally I wouldn't be too deterred by a $1000 charge to bring a bus on the island because you could easily spend twice that on any repairs (on any engine). But if you've found what you like then go for it!


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Old 02-21-2017, 09:27 AM   #11
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Yeah based on what I heard about the MBE900 I did some more looking and called a few bus companies that didn't have anything listed online. I seem to have struck gold with a couple of Bluebird TC3000s (Canadian version of the All-American) with Cat 3126 engines and Allison autos. These also have the high ceiling and are flat nose like I originally wanted, best part is he'll let them go for $1000 each but I do have to dig them out of 5ft of snow if I want to test-drive (which is a must for me). The other snowed-in option is the best condition TC2000 that I've seen with a Cummins 5.9 and AT545 but it doesn't have the extra height. Wish me luck...
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Old 02-27-2017, 05:53 PM   #12
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So after taking everyone's opinions to heart and a lot more searching we located our bus and put down a deposit while the owner attends to some servicing items for us (conveniently he owns a fleet garage). We tracked down a 2003 FS65 with the 6'6" headroom that I wanted and a Cummins 5.9 ISB and MD3060 plus storage lockers underneath and around 200k. For $1800 we get the bus with new front tires installed, oil change, and the few parts that were pirated from the bus re-installed so everything is safe and usable. Owner said this was the best bus he had until it was too old to use (NL has a 12yr max for student transportation use). We'll be starting our build thread shortly!
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:20 PM   #13
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Sounds like a nice deal! Post some pics when you can.
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:40 PM   #14
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Here she is in all her snowy glory (I honestly don't know why we live on this island sometimes...)
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:48 PM   #15
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When we clicked on this thread and that pic popped up, I said "aren't you glad we don't live like THAT!". That white cold stuff is gnarly, man.
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Old 02-27-2017, 07:04 PM   #16
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thats a nice lookin bus... im definitely glad to be lookin at that bus pic while the sweat runs off my diet-coke bottle onto the floor of my Balcony....
-Christopher
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:40 AM   #17
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We got 19 inches of the white stuff day before yesterday. And man it's cold out!

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