Are these auction buses suitable and desirable for a Skoolie conversion?
If yes, which buses are the most desirable to bid on based on the pictures and description? I will inspect the buses in person before bidding.
The application for the Skoolie is for vacation travel for two adults and one three year old.
After reading the threads, I am leaning toward the 2003 and 2004 models with the T444e engine, as I understand it doesn't have EGR and the aftermarket DPF can be removed legally and without any computer work. Apparently, I can just substitute a muffler for the diesel particulate filter.
I want to drive this skoolie into Central America after the pandemic is over, and I understand DPFs require ultra low sulfur fuel not available in Central America, so I have to remove the DPF even if currently working flawlessly.
I want a 6 window bus as I can park it at home and stay in most campgrounds. A larger bus won't fit at home and the nearest affordable storage lot is an hour drive and a toll away. That would make it very difficult to work on as there is no power at the storage lot and they don't allow converting vehicles in their lot. I also like the idea of being able to decide last minute to take a weekend trip.
I am in California and I would be titling this as a motorhome.
Do you think I can first register it immediately as a motorhome in Vermont as detailed on this website, and then register it in California as a motorhome once I get the paperwork back from Vermont? If so, can I park on the street during that month, or must I keep it in a private storage lot while I wait for the plates? California now has temp paper license plates required, but I don't know if the California auction house can issue these for Vermont or for California if the plan is to first register in Vermont.
Will the auction house let me drive the bus away before it's registered in my name? I read it can take a month to get plates and stickers from Vermont. Would the auction house ever consider letting me keep it there during the wait?
I believe I can buy a 3-day trip permit at the DMV. Would that provide some benefit? I could drive it to a storage lot and wait for Vermont plates before moving it again.
Alternatively, I can use the California Air Resources Board exemption that allows pre 2010-buses used under 1,000 miles a year to be registered in California. I live close to the auction site so I can keep the mileage under 1,000 while I convert it, and then get it retitled as a motorhome, after which the CARB rules contain an exemption for motorhomes.
All the buses appear to have rear airbags, which I love.
None list what transmission they have. How do I tell what transmission they have when I inspect them in person? I hear the 545 is not ideal. If it has that one, how much does it cost to install a better transmission? I hear about $2,000. Does that sound right?
I hear that getting a new transmission is a great time to change rear end gears for higher speed. If I want to get the best fuel economy, what gear ratio do I want? I am willing to go up mountains at 30mph. I used to have a two stroke highway conversion with a Detroit Diesel 8V-71, and that would go up mountains at about 30mph.