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Old 07-16-2020, 08:36 PM   #1
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Buying in the time of COVID.

Disclaimer: I am new to these forums so I do not know how COVID has been discussed, but I would very much like this to avoid a discussion of COVID-19, and by extension our response to it.

The the wife and I are thinking about adding a skoolie (or future skoolie) to our stable.

We live in the northeast and to buy a non-rust belt bus requires, at least, an overnight trip In non-covid time, the idea of viewing learning way-more than I need to about a bunch of different busses and traveling to seeing a bunch of busses that we ultimately do not buy would all be part of the fun (and search).

However, COVID changes that; and I do not see that changing for the foreseeable future.

So, I guess, my question is in these times how would you buy a bus (while ideally traveling only once), if the right bus came along? Should we just head to a reputable dealer, like AAA bus and Tony? Should we hire a mechanic (how to find one) at the location of an interesting bus to look it over? Should we just go ahead with an auction, asking for the records, and take our chances?
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:19 PM   #2
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I looked on craigslist and public surplus.com and govdeals.com for several months, learning about what was actually out there, and price ranges.


Then I drove from GA to OR to see the bus I wanted for $5500. But the guy would not let me test drive it. So no deal. Bid on an auction bus while in OR, got to see it, but was outbid for $6000. Then the same make/model bus as the first went for auction in AZ, before I could get there to look at it. I bid only just over $2000 sight unseen, and got the bus for $2285 out the door with auction fees.


In the end, yea, I loved the road trip, and got an even better bus than the one in OR.


Will you draw the long straw like I did? IDK. But I'd say if you see an auction from a school that is the bus you like for a good price, try to see if you can call the school district and talk to the bus maintenance folks and get a heads up on any probs or whatnot. Or just take a stab and hope for the best. Stick with the rust-free zone, and likely you will get a decent bus. They will all need something. If the motor or tranny is about to crap out, if you get the bus cheap (like I did) you still are doing OK if you gotta replace one or the other, compared to the bus dealer prices. And you get a newly rebuilt drivetrain. That was my philosophy on buying my bus.
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Old 07-16-2020, 11:51 PM   #3
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I think the Covid paradoxically raised prices and lowered prices of buses, converted or otherwise. I think the value of a sturdy stand-alone RV has increased, just like boats and electric bicycles. But buying something hundreds, if not a thousand plus miles away has depressed prices because it's getting more local at the moment.

I like that MCI-5c 35-footer that popped on this site. But it's in New England. I'm not about to venture on a cross-country bus buy trip in this era of uncertainty. With a self contained camper it would probably be a great trip.
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Old 07-17-2020, 12:08 AM   #4
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therAnother ossible solution is to find the bus in a rust-free zone and contract to have it shipped or driven to you.
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Old 07-17-2020, 06:16 AM   #5
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I think it really makes a difference on how you plan to travel to any prospective bus. By car at this point seems entirely possible. We moved one in early April. At that time no restaurants were open for inside dining and many were closed completely. Most motels were closed as were many campgrounds. So to make the trip one car, our bus(already converted), and then the bus from the auction. This worked out well. It would have been difficult without "mobile living quarters" .

At this point most eating places have at least limited indoor dining, and many motels are open again. So carefully checking on what is open in the area you plan to go to, and you should be able to drive without having to have a camper or converted bus already.

I really do not know about airline travel, at the time we moved a bus it got real sketchy so driving was the choice. Check into it with the airline of choice.

Where there is a will it can be done. pre planning is more important right now though.
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Old 07-17-2020, 06:20 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by bus-bro View Post
I think the Covid paradoxically raised prices and lowered prices of buses, converted or otherwise. I think the value of a sturdy stand-alone RV has increased, just like boats and electric bicycles. But buying something hundreds, if not a thousand plus miles away has depressed prices because it's getting more local at the moment.

I like that MCI-5c 35-footer that popped on this site. But it's in New England. I'm not about to venture on a cross-country bus buy trip in this era of uncertainty. With a self contained camper it would probably be a great trip.
MC5's are so cool!
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Old 07-17-2020, 06:36 AM   #7
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one of the things i was told was with CoVid, the exporters are having a really tough time getting in and out of the country as well as getting goods acropss the ports..



that recent Cyfair auction where very good rust free running busses went in the low to mid teens was amazing to me.. those busses normally bring top dollar and exporters take them..


a couple people I know that work in the regular RV market says sales are way up this year as people are opting to RV vs go to crowded beaches or disney world..


I think there are great deals to be had on busses right now esp in areas where exporters used to snatch em up..

-Christopher
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Old 07-17-2020, 06:10 PM   #8
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If you aren’t mechanically inclined I would definitely hire a mechanic to meet you at the location. I had a bus mechanic for a local school district help me and he saved me a lot of heartache.
I didn’t run into any issues due to COVID-19 other than having to wait outside the guys office at the salvage yard To get keys for a test drive and sign paperwork.
Good luck!
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:43 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone.

I had typed a nice long reply, but I lost it when I went to submit it ... something about a token had expired.

So, I will just post the TLDR, looks like we have some more planning and thinking to do and if the right bus comes forward, maybe we will be ready.
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Old 07-21-2020, 08:44 AM   #10
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Well work just made it so the only practical solution is going to be to buy remotely (either sight unseen or find someone local willing to do an inspection) and have it shipped.

In short the policy is mandatory 2 weeks out of the office after traveling to a non-exempt state (all exempt states are in the rust belt) and have to get notify of plans to travel ... even if it is not vacation time. Driving through a state and only stopping to stretch on the side of the road or get gas is allowed.
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Old 07-21-2020, 11:46 PM   #11
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There are a few threads on here that discuss transportation options. One recommended transportation company is located in the Houston, TX area ... which might be a good place to look for buses anyway. I'll try to find the link.
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Old 07-22-2020, 12:06 AM   #12
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I sent this in a PM to another member. In light of your work situation, #1 and #2 are non-starters. Take special care to look at #3.




1) Fly out and drive it back. This has a couple of advantages. You will have an opportunity to see the bus in person and can make a last minute bail if you just do not hit it off with the bus. You can also be sure you get all of the paperwork straight before you drive it back. I would also imagine that airline tickets, rental cars, and fuel are the lowest they will be for a while.

2) Same as #1only drive out yourself. This has the advantage and disadvantage of time (take your time and it takes a lot of time) ... but it would be an adventure. In addition, having a chase car means you do not have to rely on the bus as your sole means of transportation.

3) Hire a transport company to haul the bus to you. This is where the patience comes in play. Tango (a member that passed away late in 2019) used an independent transport company that he really liked. You may want to contact that person/company to see what to expect. I have no other suggestions on transport companies.

4) Hire someone to go out to the bus and drive it home. This has its own drawbacks... such as finding someone you trust to do this for you.
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:05 AM   #13
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4) Hire someone to go out to the bus and drive it home. This has its own drawbacks... such as finding someone you trust to do this for you.
He could hire CHEESE_WAGON ... if cheese ever makes it back from his current delivery trip.
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Old 07-26-2020, 10:01 PM   #14
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I would seriously consider driving and delivering buses and RVs for buyers. Iíd like to see more of the country. And self isolating is something Iíve done for 40 years lol. Iím based in Washington.
I missed out on my dream bus because I couldnít get to it with my tools auto buy it and get it roadworthy. That sucked! Iím driving a lesser bus but at least I have one.
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Old 07-26-2020, 11:34 PM   #15
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How did you find a bus mechanic who as willing? Did you just call the school or did you have a connection?
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:03 PM   #16
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He could hire CHEESE_WAGON ... if cheese ever makes it back from his current delivery trip.
I don't know if he finished the final leg of that trip, but I do know the bus did make it to Maine. I also remember him saying he probably wouldn't do it again for health reasons. I think it would be a lot of fun as a retirement job, but I don't think it would be a cheap thing to pay for.
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