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Old 02-17-2020, 07:01 PM   #1
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Bus Rust? How much is too much?

Hello everyone! My wife and I just toured a few handfuls of buses we are interested in. We have pictures of certain areas we were not 100% were a passable amount of rust or just too much. The pictures are of different parts of different buses. Any light you could shed on the subject would be helpful!

As an additional question, several of the buses we are considering seem to our eyes to be in similar condition. So as a general rule, is low mileage or a better engine more preferable?

The engines in the buses are 3 Mercedes Benz Engines, 2 DT466 and 1 Cummins. Pros and cons of each?

Last thing is two of the buses had a very low wheel well. It looked like it was almost touching the wheel. Is this normal or mean there is something wrong with it? You can see an example in one of the pictures.

Thank you in advance!
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:28 PM   #2
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Rust never sleeps. Those pics aren't the worst I've seen, but not good either. DT466 will be the best of the engines along with the Cummins. The sagging or low suspension is probably deflated air suspension that will return to normal after running and building air pressure.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:46 PM   #3
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Hello everyone! My wife and I just toured a few handfuls of buses we are interested in. We have pictures of certain areas we were not 100% were a passable amount of rust or just too much. The pictures are of different parts of different buses. Any light you could shed on the subject would be helpful!

As an additional question, several of the buses we are considering seem to our eyes to be in similar condition. So as a general rule, is low mileage or a better engine more preferable?

The engines in the buses are 3 Mercedes Benz Engines, 2 DT466 and 1 Cummins. Pros and cons of each?

Last thing is two of the buses had a very low wheel well. It looked like it was almost touching the wheel. Is this normal or mean there is something wrong with it? You can see an example in one of the pictures.

Thank you in advance!
The first four pics of the underside aren't too bad - that's just normal surface rust on stuff that's close to the ground. Edit: actually, the chassis rails in pics 3 and 4 look rough, but they're made of such thick steel that even rust to that extent won't mean the loss of a significant percentage of the thickness. But it is indicative of a general rust problem with the bus, that's for sure.

The next two pics are BAD NEWS. Bus bodies rust out from the inside, so once you see external rust like that, you're talking about considerable damage to the inside that would require extensive repairs. (The stepwell is also pretty bad, although those tend to be worse than the rest of the bus)

Mercedes Benz engines are generally regarded as things to avoid.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:52 PM   #4
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Heh, just noticed the bus in the fifth pic has the number "87". Not a good bus number as far as rust is concerned.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:02 PM   #5
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The first four pics of the underside aren't too bad - that's just normal surface rust on stuff that's close to the ground. Edit: actually, the chassis rails in pics 3 and 4 look rough, but they're made of such thick steel that even rust to that extent won't mean the loss of a significant percentage of the thickness. But it is indicative of a general rust problem with the bus, that's for sure.

The next two pics are BAD NEWS. Bus bodies rust out from the inside, so once you see external rust like that, you're talking about considerable damage to the inside that would require extensive repairs. (The stepwell is also pretty bad, although those tend to be worse than the rest of the bus)

Mercedes Benz engines are generally regarded as things to avoid.





Thanks for the information!

The bus in this picture has no external body rust except what is pictured here on the bumper. Is this a bad sign to you?
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:17 PM   #6
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Thanks for the information!

The bus in this picture has no external body rust except what is pictured here on the bumper. Is this a bad sign to you?
Yeah, that's a sign of internal floor damage. It's also pretty rare for a bus to be badly rusted in just one spot. Wherever the leak or leaks were, the water will have tended to flow in different directions based on where the bus was parked. Usually both wheel wells and both rear corners will tend to catch the water and rust. You may be looking at a bus where only the worst spot has made it to the outside.

This kind of thing is fixable, but the general advice around here is to buy a rust-free bus and avoid having to worry about this kind of thing. From a purely financial standpoint, you'll save a lot of money flying to a rust-free state to get your bus.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:20 PM   #7
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:21 PM   #8
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From a purely financial standpoint, you'll save a lot of money flying to a rust-free state to get your bus.
OP: Listen to this guy. Check out his Rusty 87 build thread and you'll see that he knows of what he speaks.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:37 PM   #9
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Seems to be rust from all the usual spots. Too much rust in the pics for me.
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Old 02-17-2020, 11:32 PM   #10
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Yeah, that corner has a lot of rust peeking through. The bumper is gone in some spots ... and a bumper is fairly thick. Listen to Musigensis ... experience speaks volumes.
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Old 02-18-2020, 03:31 AM   #11
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It takes so much money and effort to make a nice bus. If you can help it don’t start from a negative position of corrosion repair.
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Old 02-19-2020, 01:28 PM   #12
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Thanks guys! We followed your advice and did not purchase a rusty 87 ��
Those buses were pretty far north (Indiana)
So we are planning a trip to check some Texas buses out. Fingers crossed!
Thanks again.
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Old 02-19-2020, 01:44 PM   #13
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My otherwise clean Colorado bus had rust on the bumper like that. I just chalked it up to sun eating away the paint and allowing light surface rust to take hold. Eventually I will pull the bumpers, sand and recoat them with black tractor paint or bedliner.

Indiana seems to be hit or miss when it comes to buses. A lot of the ones I see are rusty but I don't think the entire state uses salt in the wintertime (especially in the southern half). They do have some nice spec buses (lots of pushers, air ride, etc) that you don't see very often in the Midwest in general.

Those last two pics...YIKES. Run away. I suggest looking out west, I spent $150 on a plane ticket and $500 in fuel driving my rust free Colorado bus back to Wisconsin. I consider that money well saved when I pulled up the floor and saw that clean sheet metal.
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Old 02-19-2020, 02:10 PM   #14
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How much rust is OK is very subjective. I HATE dealing with rust so I held out for a bus with no rust "issues". My Bluebird had a few minor spots of surface rust under the plywood that were easily handled with a wire brush and ospho. I see what some of the folks deal with repairing rust damage and don't want to deal with that. I would rather wait for a rust free bus or pay a bit more for a rust free bus. That is just me though. I have seen some great examples of rust damage repair on here and my hat is off to those with the ability and patience to take on a project like that.

Regarding engines, I agree with the previous posters who recommended avoiding the Mercedes. Parts and service are not as easily available as typical Cummins or Navistar.

Personally, I just love my Cummins. I would buy another in a heartbeat. However, if you are looking at a full size bus, I would recommend sticking with the 8.3. In a short-mid size bus the 5.9's are great but a bit underpowered in a full size bus. IMHO: The most desirable drive train in a typical school bus is the 8.3 Cummins backed up with an Allison MD-3060.

Just my $0.02

Good luck with your quest.
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