01-07-2018, 07:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Bay Area California
Bus-Finding + Pro Tips
~ First post ~
Greetings Skoolies ~
I have been diving deep into research on this site as I am planning on investing in a school bus to convert and live in full time.
I have been loving this site and grateful for the generous sharing of wisdom and wry humor from this engaged, helpful, witty, and kind community. I am looking forward to contributing my own types of knowledge and documenting my process for others to follow. I come to you humbly seeking a smooth beginning foundation - hoping to get input from those much more seasoned then I in the way of ‘what an experienced eye’ looks for in purchasing a school bus for conversion.
May be helpful to know / about my purposes :
Would love to acquire and start the conversion as soon as is reasonable – although luckily I am not in a rush (just very excited !) . Ideally will be livable conversion by end of July when my lease expires. (at the very least have the seats out and inside stripped away – although willing to wait for an ideal bus if some specific situation delays its availability….I am grateful to have options so no need to rush, but I do want to get started rather than dreaming and delaying for years as I have a perfectionistic streak)
I will be living full time on this bus, parked mostly in the mountains of the Bay Area (fortunate to have friends with land), with teaching trips to festivals and gatherings on the west coast (I teach a dance massage bodywork style I created if you’re intrigued my site is (removed hotlink to commercial ste, w/o site admin approval --》Bansil )
. I am a writer, bodyworker, media maker (video / audio/ photography) . I’m lucky to have friends I can trade bodywork for bodywork (on the bus that is �� ) but I am not (YET) mechanically inclined to be able to do in-depth fixes on the bus – I would rather invest more up front and get a top notch engine then pour a lot of money into repairs as I will have to outsource that work to more experienced parties). If all goes well I and the bus may end up in Hawaii – fingers crossed (medium, long term dream goal) ! I am going to be making a body friendly squish bus and showing all how I did it online thru my portal ! ~
Some of my requirements / preferences are
1. NO RUST - Bus not to have been driven in the salt belt (I already have bad experiences with rusty bottomed vehicles I cannot even put a tow hitch on so this is a sticking point for me – I am going to pour a lot of love into this bus and want it to last as long as possible !) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_Belt
2. Medium size (true shortie is too small for my full time living needs, and a full 40 footer is likely a bit unwieldy for the (infrequent) street parking and traversing mountainous turns I will be doing – although my preference is for the longer side and I do not have space constraints on the land I’ll be living on)
3. Ideally larger motor for occasional highway driving and traversing mountains (would like to take this bus on a book tour / take a few of my crew (removed hotlink to commercial ste, w/o site admin approval --》Bansil . Mostly this will be parked except perhaps the summer season – but if easier / better to just leave it parked almost all the time this can be done as well.
4. Metal strong roof – want to build a deck and roof rack on top, greater safety, will be using magnetic capabilities inside
5. Ideally a bus that can tow a trailer if necessary / deck can be build off the tow hitch mount point
6. Slight preference for a rear engine for low heat/quiet while driving, slight preference for flat nose (originally had preference for dog nose but it seems like you get less space overall with this shape, which was counterintuitive for me and something I learned from this forum)
7. Ideally near bay area California so I can visit and inspect the undercarriage etc. and not need to drive home too far (open to going to neighboring states to bring back baby home though ;P )
Been poking around the auctions but I feel like I need to physically examine the vessel or have someone really experienced do this for me if the bus is too far away. Been finding the most juicy recommendations and leads from this site in fact as there is so much seasoned knowledge stewing here.
A few I have had my eye on especially, in order of preference, would love insights :
A. 1996 Diesel Carpenter “This is a nice diesel school bus, everything runs the way it should and is a very unique short bus. The wheel base is very short so it can turn on a dime, kid you not shorter wheel base than a pickup. The 5.9 Cummins has 178k miles, always runs and shifted great with that Allison trans. Brand new rear tires, front ones will need replacing soon. Air breaks, registered as an RV so will not need CDL. Seats are ripped out and ready for your conversion. It has a lift gate making it handicap accessible. I have screwed locks on all the doors so you can use it as portable, reliable storage. New emergency hatches. Safety inspection last done in 2013 when she retired. Open to all trades and offers, don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions. I have just put the heaviest 16,000lbs brand new tow package welded on so it is ready for your use, lights hooks and all. This is bus wont even feel the weight of a cargo trailer. asking 5300 OBO. This would make an awesome conversion. Ive already put several thousand into it.”
a. photos attatched
b. Pros/cons of a small turning radius? Will this possibly not work with a deck (lifting front wheels up because too much leveraged weight?)
a. I know it gets wet up in OR – do I have to worry about rust there? – they mentioned patching up holes…
a. I Love this medium size ! similar to A.
a. I fell in love with these the minute I saw them, but am I getting in over my head with the age of the engine and my experience level ?
---------------------------RUST FEARS --------------------------
a. Concerned about rust on this one…(WIS)
a. Concerned about rust here as well (MN)
a. If bus from MI nervous about rust
There are likely the questions I am going to ask (are there any more you would recommend?)
Who / where did you buy the bus from?
how high is the bus ceiling ?
how old are the tires?
Is there any rust?
What type of brakes?
What type of engine?
Are there any window leaks?
do all the lights and electrics work?
Functional heating / cooling ?
exhaust pipe down the middle ?
Service record, vehicle history, mileage, past use, any accidents?
why are you selling the vehicle?
what do you wish you would have known (to ask) before buying?
how does it do on hills, highways, top speed?
no chips in the windshield?
how is the chassis - rusted, bent?
What is the GVWR ?
Does this bus have a tow hitch?
Any other perks of this bus?
More generally, a call out for anyone to respond with personal stories and insights :
What do you wish you would have known before you bought your bus / converted?
Any information that people often overlook?
Thank you for reading and I look forward to engaging with you all ! Thanks for helping make my bus mama dreams come true