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Old 12-17-2009, 04:02 PM   #1
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The Silver Snail...

I just changed the title to something a bit more relevant. Former title, "Huh? What Just Happened?" didn't seem to fit anymore!

I am now beginning to learn the dangers of eBaying late at night. I know that some of you have very strong feelings about eBay...and this is not eBay's fault, just mine (and my wife's). Actually, I blame her...especially if things don't work out. So here's the story as I know it...

Lesa and I have been trying to get together money for a bus to haul our children around. We married in July and each brought several children into the mix. While we were engaged, I got the idea that a bus was going to be in short order to haul us all around. Our Suburban just wasn't going to be big enough . So February of 2009, I joined Skoolie.net. I've read a lot and learned quite a bit. So thanks to all of you! I had decided that I wanted a diesel with air brakes. I wanted to cut off the back end and turn it into a horsetrailer pulling, hay and family hauling machine. So when we found what we thought was "the one," we got our act together and ponied up the dough. But before the money could change hands, he stopped returning my calls...maybe he sold it, maybe he didn't like my money...I don't know. So Lesa and I got to looking around and spent the next several days looking at buses online and making phone calls. Then late last night we came across what appears to be our new bus...

They were asking $2500 Buy it now or make an offer...so at 11:30 at night, we thought in our sleep-deprived state, "It's not bad...let's low ball 'em. Let's offer half and see what they counter with." So we offered $1250. We laughed about it, went to bed, slept well, and got up the next morning. We keep looking at buses and even bid on a couple that were ending soon, but went out of our price range fast. Lesa had the day off from work so she was doing a lot of calling on buses. We wanted a bus for Christmas so that I don't drive everyone crazy. I usually have to have something to do...with two weeks of Christmas vacation and no "work" I get cranky. About 11:30 AM, Lesa tells me to not bid anymore because we had won the bus from the previous night. She hadn't even noticed after being on eBay for 3 hours that morning that they had accepted our offer! Glad we didn't win any other auctions.

So what do we get for our $1250? 1988 GMC 66 passenger BlueBird with over 200,000 miles, air brakes, and an 8.2L Detroit. I don't know if it's a turbo or not. Lesa has talked to the seller briefly, and he didn't know. Grrr. It's in Ohio and we're in Western Kansas, so it's going to be a trip. I think the goal is to have it (haven't assigned a gender yet) home before Christmas. I have more questions than answers right now. It's gray and black with some red, white, and blue stripes. The paint looks very good and it doesn't appear that it ever was a route bus. I'm hoping that it'll be built for speed. I'll have to find out more information after I get done with school for the day. I'll get pictures posted as soon as I can!

Any advise about taking a "new" skoolie out for a 1200 mile maiden voyage? Is Good Sam Club a good thing to take advantage of? What are some hints or tips that you guys (or wimmenz) can give me based on your experiences? Any Skoolies on the I-70 corridor between Dayton, OH and Goodland, KS? I'd much rather learn vicariously than experience the full frontal headache which is a $1250 boat anchor. And yes, I realize that it has an 8.2L Detroit...that's why we offered so little! This is either going to be the best thing for my family or a Nightmare on 10th Street!
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:28 PM   #2
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

Nice job on getting them to come down on the price. They would have never sold that bus at the asking price anyway. Don't expect it to be a rocket. Depending on the rear end gear ratio, Anything over 55MPH could be pushing it.

Those engines are NOT turbocharged.

A few things you can check before hitting the road....

1. All exterior lights
2. Tires/tread
3. loose lugnuts
4. loose/broken exhaust pipes
5. Air leaks
Make sure air builds to 120psi and cuts out, then walk around bus and listen for any leaks
Step on brake pedal and hold with engine off and listen for any air leakage that would indicate a leaky air chamber (make sure there is plenty of air in system)
Apply parking brake, put transmission in drive and give it a little throttle to see if the bus will move. IT SHOULD NOT if adjusted properly.
6. Check for leaks under bus (oil pans are known to rot on those)
7. Check all fluid levels
8. Inspect hoses and belts for chafing or cracks.
9. Horn, defrosters, fans etc..

Those 8.2's were known for head gasket problems because of the design of the heads. So make sure the coolant is ALWAYS topped off. They have almost zero tolerance for overheating. If it smokes out of the exhaust a little at first and then clears up, thats ok. But if it constantly smokes than most likely it will need injectors.

At 200k miles hopefully it had some sort of overhaul. I owned a trolley for a little while that I was going to restore and rent out that was built on a GMC chassis with the 8.2 and that ran good except for the fact that it smoked constantly. So that needed injectors.

On the other hand, while searching for my sKOOlie, me and my buddy test drove an old Chevy Thomas with the 8.2 just for fun, and that ran awesome. No smoke or anything! So lets just hope you end up with a good one!!

Good luck on the trip!!
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:57 PM   #3
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

Newskewlhauler,

I don't know much about buses YET but I do know a bit, through experience, about dealing with eBay's claims department and know some additional info just from reading some of the faqs on eBay's vehicle policies that I looked up upon reading your post. I really hope this helps you!

If you have a bad feeling about this bus, try to stall paying until you get the chance to see it in person. Then if you don't like it, or find that it is not what the seller said it was in the listing (for example, condition or not being upfront with critical flaws in the vehicle) then you will have a very sturdy leg to stand on for not purchasing it even after your offer was accepted. Though technically their VPP states that it does not cover "buyers remorse", like any legal document there is a lot of gray area and plenty of difference based on one person's interpretation of the words.

There is eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Program (VPP) set in place for a bunch of reasons. In short, here is a link to the policy, I think #7 might help you wiggle out of it should it be a lemon or at the very least undesirable for the money; "7. The vehicle had undisclosed engine, body, transmission, and/or frame damage at the time of purchase that will cost more than $1,000 to repair. The cost of repair to any one of those components must exceed $1,000. For vehicles in the Boats (engine and hull only), Buses, Commercial Trucks, and RVs & Campers categories, the cost of the undisclosed engine, body, transmission, or frame damage must exceed $1,500. Race Cars are not eligible for this protection. "

http://pages.motors.ebay.com/buy/purcha ... index.html

I tried to buy an 8$ scooter helmet on there once and freaked when the seller wanted 40$ shipping for a one pound shipped item as they had not listed a shipping price nor did they answer my question about the shipping cost. I contacted them about canceling the sale because I refused to pony up that much shipping for a low quality item and the seller was kindly enough to oblige.

My point in all of this is that if you are freaked about buying a bus sight unseen due to them accepting your offer, perhaps write a nice long email about your feelings and see if they will entertain you a chance to test it, check it out prior to agreeing to purchase it for sure. WORST CASE SCENARIO, you could simply not pay it and get a strike and probably negative feedback. Not the most pleasant scenario but at least you won't be spending 1250$ for a very large paperweight. Hope this helps!!!
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:07 PM   #4
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

Do you have a link to the ebay auction you won?

Chris


EDIT: never mind I found it
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Clean...item3efb341777
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Old 12-18-2009, 12:27 AM   #5
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

I know where Goodland is... I spent all my summers in Haigler Ne.... Heck I have cousins all over the bloody place out that way.
Not a bad looking Bus, long as it runs/drives well.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:05 AM   #6
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

I agree with Smitty. Really not a bad lookin bus for $1250. I would go look as soon as possible. In the description they said "excellent running condition", so if it don't start right up and run and drive like a champ, you don't have to pay for it.

Those busses are selling for 13 or 14 in scrap condition here, so you should be ok either way, as long as you can get it home safe.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:40 AM   #7
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

I've talked to the seller a little more. I'm getting more confident about it. As long as it makes it home, I'm good. The seller does have the title. I'm going to get temp tags for $8 for 30 days this afternoon. I've got my plane ticket purchased for before the butt-crack of dawn. I "should" be in Dayton by one in the afternoon on Monday. Hopefully heading West by 3 PM. We'll see how it all goes. Thanks for the warnings and good advice. I really hope I don't have to sell it for scrap, but if I have to... It is a really pretty bus...Just hoping it runs as well as it looks. I'm trying to track down more information about the bus...I tried to contact someone from the school that it was purchased from but haven't heard back yet.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:48 AM   #8
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

Best of luck to you on getting your bus! Can't wait to see what you start doing to it once you get it home!
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:08 AM   #9
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

Nice lookin bus!!
Wichita KS here
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:12 AM   #10
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

Nice looking bus. The 8.2 may or may not have a turbo. I had a '90 Chevy / Carpenter 30' bus with an 8.2 turbo. With a turbo, it will do O.K., but any hill will make it scared....at least out here in the West where the air is a bit thin. The 8.2 is a relatively high RPM engine, I'd try to keep it between 2500 and 2800 RPM. My old bus would hit 70 MPH if the wind wasn't blowing, but the steering was a tad sloppy at that speed. For a 1200 mile trip into the prevailing wind, change the air filter. A dirty filter will rob lots of power, and can lead to high exhaust temps esp with a turbo.
I know because I caught a bus on fire that way!!! Good luck with your adventure!
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:50 PM   #11
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

My only other input for your 8.2: it (and I think most of our engines) uses a solenoid to shut off fuel and kill the engine. On the 8.2 it's near the front top, just in front of the air cleaner. Has 2 wires going to it. If it fails, the engine won't get fuel, and won't start. It will however run momentarily with a shot of ether. This is the only problem I had with mine. Fortunately it worked after it cooled down, and I finished my trip. It's a good thing to know where it is. If I remember, it has 3 3/16 allen bolts securing it. If the engine will crank and crank, but won't start, it may be the culprit. Mine got so hot it started smoking. Taking the solenoid off may allow the engine to be run, but you'll have to reach in and push/pull the shutoff manually to start and stop the engine. Useful info to keep in the back of your head, from one who went through the troubleshooting!
Again, enjoy and safe trip!
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Old 12-19-2009, 09:07 PM   #12
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

I found something interesting while looking up some info about your bus. Check this out: Go to the Gates website http://www.vindecipher.com/gates/ and type in the VIN number of the bus, which is 1GDM6P1FXJV501294. You'll see the engine is actually listed as a 6.5L turbo diesel? So either the VIN decoder is wrong (I think that's pretty unlikely but maybe possible), the seller doesn't know what he has (seems possible), or that's not the original engine. Ask the guy of he knows anything about this.

A 6.5 liter turbo would be what a GM/Detroit engine? But...I thought they only had 6.2's until the early 90's, and then the 6.5 from then on up. I'm confused.
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Old 12-20-2009, 06:23 PM   #13
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

I guess I'll find out tomorrow! I'm in Denver now because a friend could take me tonight versus my wife a 2AM. I can't wait! I'll post pics and an update.
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Old 12-23-2009, 01:30 PM   #14
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

I just got home now. It was a long couple days...the bus ran perfect, really much better than expected. I'm going to rest up for a bit, then work on my story (with pictures).

I'm so glad to be home...with my new Skoolie!

Ben.
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Old 12-23-2009, 02:28 PM   #15
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

An exciting event I remember it well, welcome to a lot of work.
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:15 PM   #16
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

So the trip went something like this...

12-20-2009, Sunday, because I'm really cheap & just bought this bus, I bummed a ride out to Denver to catch my plane Monday morning. I spent most of the day hoping from store to store with friends doing last minute Christmas shopping, all the while dreaming of my bus. At 6:30-ish PM we head for the airport so that my friends can pick up their daughter who is flying in and drop me off. So I spend the next 11 hours at the Denver airport trying to get some sleep. I was a little paranoid that someone would jack my stuff, so I didn't sleep well, plus waaaay too excited.

Finally, at 5:30 AM, Monday, I board my plane for Chicago. The flight out of Denver wasn't pleasant. I was hoping that this would be the bumpiest ride of the day. Luckily, it was. I was irrated that wifi @ Chicago costs money. I only had an hour or so layover, and I'm cheap, so I didn't want to pay for wifi for my laptop. Denver was free! So I just used my phone instead. So I had a little something to do. The plane for Dayton was only a 52 passenger or something like that. I kept thinking "My bus seats more people than this!" I had about the worst seat on the plane, but the flight attendant let me upgrade to a better seat...which was totally awesome. My experiences in flying are nearly always fantastic or completely miserable...not much in between. I think we were on the runway longer than in the air.

Finally touchdown in Dayton. I met Ron at the airport. Nice guy, really helpful, but clueless about this bus. I think I got 110% of the information about the bus that he knew from him. He bought the bus at an auction for $730...a total steal! When he told me that, I didn't feel bad about only giving $1250. He had maybe two months storage fees and a change of title fees. He made easy money. Probably not doubling it like he wanted but a $300-$400 profit isn't too shabby. Oh yeah, while in the Chicago airport, I talked to the guy who maintained the bus for the school it came from. He had really great things to say about it. He said that he'd scan and email me the maintenance records after Christmas sometime...hopefully, he follows through.

So we got to the bus and Ron tells me that he put two new group 31 batteries in this morning and that he'd like me to split the cost with him. I didn't really need the new batteries because I have a new 4D battery at home, but I figured what the heck. The guy from the school hinted that they probably were about shot. So I chipped in my $75 share. The bus was in the same position as it was in the eBay ad and they had some snow on the ground so I knew that it hadn't moved in awhile. I wanted to see if there were puddles underneath. It was scary clean. I mean there was white rock underneath the bus and it was still all very white. So he threw me the keys and it fired right up! At little smoke at first, but cleared up and disappeared altogether. So I checked the lights and brakes, fluids, etc. Everything was good. I still couldn't believe that the motor was still that tightly sealed, so I followed him the Wally World to grab oil, anti-freeze, etc.

It rode and drove like a dream! I still couldn't get over how good this thing appeared to be! I kept expecting it to take a dump at anytime. After my Wal-Mart run, it was on to St. Joseph, IL to crash at a friend's house. I hadn't seen him and his wife in four years, so it was about time. They've had two kids since then, and Brooks finally got his 71 Plymouth 'Cuda running. It's been a 12+ year project...it was worth the wait. I didn't take any pictures of the car...I did of the block long black marks we left though! Actually, I took some video which I'll have to post somewhere "later."

Anyway, some pictures...

It was 292 miles for the first leg of the trip. No speed records were broken. The bus has no tach...bummer. So I just kept it between 55-60. It got me there with no problems at all. I stopped at a rest area and talked with a woman heading west as well. *Somehow* the conversation turned to this silver bus she passed a little while ago on the interstate. I told her it was me and what plans I had for it. She thought it was pretty neat. She then suggested that we take different routes through Indianapolis and meet on the other side. I told her she's win regardless, the "Silver Snail" wasn't going to win any races...that's just a name I'm kicking around. Nothing for sure yet. Anyway, she must have taken a different route because she did wave as she passed me again this time. It was kind of neat to be recognized.

Stay tuned, there's more...
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:10 PM   #17
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

Then Tuesday morning, after a wild ride in the 'Cuda, I left St. Joseph for home...hopefully. Unfortunately, I only made it to Hay, KS, 140 miles from home. When I woke up...finally...this is what I saw under the bus...well, the file is too big to attach. You wouldn't have seen anything anyway. There was no drips, leaks or puddles! I honestly couldn't believe it. Again, without being plugged in, it fired right off. It's actually a little scary how fast it fires. There's usually a crank or two, but it's just "hit the key and it's running." Awesome! All of my pictures of the motor are over 1MB so I can't attach them. I'll have to work on that. This was leaving from St. Joseph. I love Casey's pizza, so I had some for dinner the night before and breakfast that morning. It was a good day. I had to drive one town away to get fuel, NO PLACE in St. Joseph has diesel. So I drove back to Ogden (5 miles) and fueled up. One of the best parts to the visit is that my buddy called me later and said that he might start looking around for a short bus! With two little ones, they're looking at bigger vehicles...they detest minivans and want a diesel conversion van, but can't find one. So we might have someone joining the shorty ranks someday!!!

I made it as far as Columbia, MO before needing to fuel again. That was a 338 mile jaunt. Again, things went smoothly. Most of the people I'd met waved and were really friendly. I did get my first "bird" in St. Louis. St. Louis traffic wasn't fun. It wasn't really heavy traffic, but just enough of a pain and people were generally rude and had no tolerance of a school bus. The next stop was a Wal-Mart in Oak Grove, MO. I needed to get some cash for the Kansas Turnpike coming up...did I mention I left my debit card at home Sunday? Nope. That sucked.

Moneygram to the rescue. My strangely supportive wife wired me money so I could get fuel. I put it on a WalMart debit card so I didn't have to carry large amounts of cash, but I needed cash for the turnpike. So from the fuel stop to WalMart was about 80 miles. Next stop was Hay, KS 290 miles away!

Getting through Kansas City wasn't a problem. I'm there enough. Got across the turnpike without a hassle. I did get out of the bus to walk up to the window to get the ticket (forgot to put the bus in neutral, I realized when I got back in...air brakes work great, thanks for asking!) and to pay. It was nice to stretch legs. The closer I got to Hays, the weather was taking a turn for the worse. I saw a one car rollover accident and the aftermath of two 18-wheelers and bridge. Not sure what happened there and if both drivers had on their seat belts, I'm sure they walked away, but their tractors were toast. So I decided to shut it down in Hays for the night. Just 140 miles from home.

My plan was to just run the bus for a few hours...I got there about midnight. But it was seriously cold without the heat, so I had to run the bus. I was really surprised at how little fuel the bus used in 6 hours. So I left Hays, bound for Goodland at about 7:30 AM. This is what I had to deal with for the next two hours or so...at 20-35 miles per hour...

Once I got to Oakley, KS, the road cleared, was pretty much dry and it was sprint to the barn. It was about 55 mph the rest of the 70-ish miles home. Remember that nice clean bus I bought? This is what she looked like when I brought her to see my wife...
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:17 PM   #18
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

Lastly, after my wife checking out the bus, the bus had to deal with her harshest critic...

I think she passed. That's Snowball. Anyway, that's my 1149 mile journey to get the bus home. I'm not 100% set on a name for her yet. I've decided on a gender though...female...certainly. I'm thinking about "Investment INsanity." We'll see if the kids come up with something better.

I have some videos that are in no way as good as TigerCubs, or anyone else's for that matter. But I'll try to post them on YouTube "later." Now the fun begins!

And now you know the rest of the story...

Thanks,
Ben & Lesa...Brian, Xavier, Taylor, Cole, Logan, and Snowball...and a bunch of cats...and three horses!
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Old 12-23-2009, 08:17 PM   #19
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

you have a wonderful looking bus
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Old 12-24-2009, 11:45 PM   #20
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Re: Huh? What just happened?

I'll have to look you up if/when I make it back home...should be easy enough.....Goodlands not that big that hiding that bus would be easy *grin*
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