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Old 04-15-2021, 10:03 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Canada is a Rust Bucket

I've come to the conclusion that there are zero suitable busses for use in Canada, unless you have a half million dollars to buy a new one off the factory line. Every bus i've seen in Canada, even the overpriced busses, have several "pages" of rust lifting off them, all over the chassis.

I've been searching for a schoolbus to convert for over a year. This spring i was supposed to have found one and begun work on it. I am still clueless as to where to locate one. Im basically in the same position as i started over a year ago. I've seen hundreds of hunks of rust.

Im not even being overly picky about the rust either. Im willing to accept surface rust, some flaking and pitting. But all the buses i've seen are barely even suitable for a scrapyard. In most of the cases, i feel like i could kick the chassis apart with my foot, it was so crumbly and scabby. They appear to have sat in a swamp for the majority of their lives. I think someone must have been pulling these up from the bottom of the ocean. They look like the titanic.

Are there any companies that are focused on locating suitable busses, preparing them for inspection and then shipping to Canada?
I've been looking into the process of importing school busses from USA and that route appears to be a speed trap. Theres lots of horror stories about people finding the perfect bus, only to have it impounded because there was a hole in the floor and its therefore not suitable for import to canada. Or the Stop sign was removed, and therefore the bus has been modified and no longer suitable for import to canada, etc etc etc.

I dont want to spend 10k on a bus only to have the government tell me im not allowed to touch it, and then apply additional thousand dollar fines for the mistake.

Is there a service that focuses specifically on moving used school busses from USA to Canada?

Due to the coof, i'm unable to travel anywhere. This makes traveling to the USA to find one myself impossible. My local government would require me to spend thousands of dollars on "isolation hotels" on my way out and then on the way back in.

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Old 04-15-2021, 10:19 AM   #2
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You are correct that the used vehicle market in most of Canada is similar to that of the northern US states: lots of rust.


It can certainly make it difficult to find good, used vehicles. They are out there, though. Including school buses.


You could also look way out west. Buses around Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Okanagan valley, Kamloops should have less rust since those areas see mild winters and thus less road salt.
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Old 04-15-2021, 10:22 AM   #3
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I got roasted on FB by the proud Canadian owner of a 2009 maxxforce for saying this.
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Old 04-15-2021, 10:26 AM   #4
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Unfortunately, it would probably be easier to travel to the USA than to another province in Canada. Each province has its own quarantine rules. I'd have to do 15 days in an expensive, approved quarantine hotel, each time i enter a new province. To get to BC from Ontario, and then back? im looking at 3 months in quarantine and hotel bills.

What i would really like, is a service that locates suitable busses, prepares them for safety checks, and then works with my customs broker to move the bus to Ontario for me. This will probably cost an extra 1 or 2 thousand, but i'd rather that over the rust buckets here.

I need to have bought this bus 2 or 3 months ago. But at this rate it feels like its a lost cause. I've begun looking at constructing a pole barn this year instead, because i'm pretty certain only ultra wealthy people can afford a skoolie in Canada.
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Old 04-15-2021, 10:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teknomad View Post
I'd have to do 15 days in an expensive, approved quarantine hotel, each time i enter a new province. To get to BC from Ontario, and then back? im looking at 3 months in quarantine and hotel bills.

I don't think that's quite how it works.. but I could be wrong. My understanding is that you'd do a trip and quarantine once back home for the 2 weeks.


Regardless, now is not the time to be travelling the continent for a bus. I'd be surprised if you could get across the US border right now without good reason. Even if you did you'd be in the same quarantine situation.


Might want to let things calm down again.
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Old 04-15-2021, 10:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
I got roasted on FB by the proud Canadian owner of a 2009 maxxforce for saying this.




I like having a winter season, but our road management in the winter sure does eat away at vehicles. That's just indisputable fact. Even so, I've managed to find suitable used vehicles. They're just harder to come by.
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Old 04-15-2021, 10:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teknomad View Post
Every bus i've seen in Canada, even the overpriced busses, have several "pages" of rust lifting off them, all over the chassis.
These aren't "pages" of rust, they're the paint layer peeling off but remaining mostly intact while doing so. It's still just surface rust underneath.

Quote:
Originally Posted by teknomad View Post
Im willing to accept surface rust, some flaking and pitting. But all the buses i've seen are barely even suitable for a scrapyard. In most of the cases, i feel like i could kick the chassis apart with my foot, it was so crumbly and scabby.
You could not have kicked the chassis apart with your foot, although you could have kicked your foot apart with the chassis. What you're seeing on the underside of buses is probably something like this:

before1.png

which, when scraped, treated for surface rust and painted, looks like this:

after1.png

with metal thickness not measurably different from when it came out of the factory.

It's true that Canadian buses (and buses from, say, Buffalo NY) are going to be rusty disasters, but the rust you need to be concerned about is rust on the body, which is made of thin sheet metal which can be badly damaged by a degree of corrosion which produces only surface rust on the chassis.
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Old 04-15-2021, 11:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
which, when scraped, treated for surface rust and painted, looks like this:
A bus I saw in RI, the floor joists (made of similar thickness metal to the body) crumbled to the touch. Even if the frame was immaculate its more than possible the cabin would have rolled off it on the right turn out of the driveway.


The bus was a bluebird RE, had all seats in. I think they bought it, got it back, realized how bad it was, and tried to get out from under it.
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Old 04-15-2021, 11:40 AM   #9
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A bus I saw in RI, the floor joists (made of similar thickness metal to the body) crumbled to the touch.
The floor joists are part of the body, at least as I use the term. Large pieces of mine were just plain gone, as indeed they were made of 16 ga. like the rest of my body.
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Old 04-15-2021, 12:53 PM   #10
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do they actually force you into a hotel parking lot to quarantine? cant you just ignore it and go to the west get a bus bring it home and do your thing? ive seen some nice busses in the western parts..



winter sucks.. I live in ohio and it sucks bad.. 47 degrees in april with yep you guessed it MORE GREY SKIES is not my idea of life.. unsure why anyone lives in the great grey north...
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Old 04-15-2021, 01:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
I got roasted on FB by the proud Canadian owner of a 2009 maxxforce for saying this.
Facebook is a treasure trove of bad ideas and misinformation.
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Old 04-15-2021, 01:07 PM   #12
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Facebook is a treasure trove of bad ideas and misinformation.
I love getting "skooled" on buses on there. The "Swarm" group has gotten pretty cringey lately.
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Old 04-15-2021, 02:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
winter sucks.. I live in ohio and it sucks bad.. 47 degrees in april with yep you guessed it MORE GREY SKIES is not my idea of life.. unsure why anyone lives in the great grey north...

While November and December tend to be quite cloudy and grey, once the proper cold settles in the winter sun can be outright blinding. I love it More north doesn't necessarily mean more grey.
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Old 04-16-2021, 12:29 AM   #14
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What about Prevost and MCI busses? I'm reading that most of their chassis is made of Stainless Steel instead of mild steel

What can i expect in terms of rust, on a Canadian MCI or Prevost? Will it have rust issues as well?

And yeah, the "pages" of rust are not just the surface paint layer coming off. Theres dozens of "pages" below the paint layer that have also expanded and begun flaking.

Have you ever soaked a pad of paper in water, and then dried it? Each page has a slightly different wave pattern to it? Thats what the rust on Canadian school busses look like.

And yeah, i can probably kick my foot through some of these chassis. I can physically break off chunks of "metal" with my bare fingers. Not flakes. Chunks. The chunks are made up of dozens of layers of flakes. These things musta been driving Spongebob to school because im pretty sure these have been in the ocean most of their lives.
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Old 04-16-2021, 10:40 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by teknomad View Post
Unfortunately, it would probably be easier to travel to the USA than to another province in Canada. Each province has its own quarantine rules. I'd have to do 15 days in an expensive, approved quarantine hotel, each time i enter a new province. To get to BC from Ontario, and then back? im looking at 3 months in quarantine and hotel bills.

What i would really like, is a service that locates suitable busses, prepares them for safety checks, and then works with my customs broker to move the bus to Ontario for me. This will probably cost an extra 1 or 2 thousand, but i'd rather that over the rust buckets here.

I need to have bought this bus 2 or 3 months ago. But at this rate it feels like its a lost cause. I've begun looking at constructing a pole barn this year instead, because i'm pretty certain only ultra wealthy people can afford a skoolie in Canada.
This is not true
Currently only the eastern provinces plus Manitoba have interprovincial travel restrictions so heading west you would only have to comply with Manitoba restrictions which state you must quarantine at home 14 days when entering Manitoba, the exception being you are traveling through so that is allowed only with stops for food and gas. So no hotel quarantine, the only quarantine you would be required to do would be upon return to Ontario. Yes I also searched for over a year in BC and Alberta and ended up buying in the states. Yes I saw many rusted buses but also many not rusty. Just not what I was looking for. Ymmv
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Old 04-16-2021, 12:21 PM   #16
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Wisconsin (so just south of Canada) isn't much better. All the buses around here start rusting out around the 4-5 year mark. Everywhere gets salted heavily in the wintertime.

When I drove school buses we had 3 year old Blue Birds with rusted out stairwells
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Old 04-21-2021, 03:49 PM   #17
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Yes selection in most of Canada seems bad so that’s why I imported mine but I think you could find some that might be ok in BC. Your info on importing one doesn’t seem quite right though. If the bus meets USA standards then it will meet Canadian standards. You can only import Bluebird or Thomas, and some International just depending on the year. As you know, you just have to get one that isn’t altered and I don’t think removal of the stop sign will give you a problem. The federal inspection just looks to make sure the lights are all on there, kilometers are on the speedometer and few other small things; it’s usually just a young guy from Canadian Tire that doesn’t really know what he’s doing. It’s your out of province inspection that gets more in-depth.

If you were to fly down to the states and drive it back you shouldn’t have the hotel quarantine. If they tried to make me, I’d just say no then fight the ticket in court. I think the ticket is less than the hotel cost anyway. You could also just tell them you can’t afford the hotel and I’ve heard of people who don’t have to pay it.

I’ve imported 4 or so vehicles from the states so I may be able to answer some questions if you have any.
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Old 04-21-2021, 04:35 PM   #18
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Hey Teknomad, Ontario is always the worst for rust, I purchased a 2004 66 Pass T444E Bluebird with 125,000 km for $8K not a speck of rust I have been living in it for 2 years now on Vancouver Island and just love it. Rains a lot here but no leaks its like the yellow submarine. Have 600 watts of solar composting toilet, propane freestanding fireplace, and king size bed in the back. Its has been well worth the effort. Try and contact international dealerships (Williams lake BC) that take school bus on trade from the school board and you will get some good deals that way, most asr very well maintained as they just came out of service.

Good luck
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Old 04-21-2021, 09:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teknomad View Post
I've come to the conclusion that there are zero suitable busses for use in Canada, unless you have a half million dollars to buy a new one off the factory line. Every bus i've seen in Canada, even the overpriced busses, have several "pages" of rust lifting off them, all over the chassis.

I've been searching for a schoolbus to convert for over a year. This spring i was supposed to have found one and begun work on it. I am still clueless as to where to locate one. Im basically in the same position as i started over a year ago. I've seen hundreds of hunks of rust.

Im not even being overly picky about the rust either. Im willing to accept surface rust, some flaking and pitting. But all the buses i've seen are barely even suitable for a scrapyard. In most of the cases, i feel like i could kick the chassis apart with my foot, it was so crumbly and scabby. They appear to have sat in a swamp for the majority of their lives. I think someone must have been pulling these up from the bottom of the ocean. They look like the titanic.

Are there any companies that are focused on locating suitable busses, preparing them for inspection and then shipping to Canada?
I've been looking into the process of importing school busses from USA and that route appears to be a speed trap. Theres lots of horror stories about people finding the perfect bus, only to have it impounded because there was a hole in the floor and its therefore not suitable for import to canada. Or the Stop sign was removed, and therefore the bus has been modified and no longer suitable for import to canada, etc etc etc.

I dont want to spend 10k on a bus only to have the government tell me im not allowed to touch it, and then apply additional thousand dollar fines for the mistake.

Is there a service that focuses specifically on moving used school busses from USA to Canada?

Due to the coof, i'm unable to travel anywhere. This makes traveling to the USA to find one myself impossible. My local government would require me to spend thousands of dollars on "isolation hotels" on my way out and then on the way back in.
Have you tried Alberta?i just recently purchased a 1998 blue bird with 98,000km 7.3 diesel,I’m at the process of sealing my floor with corroseal after using grinding disks 120z zirconia P/N: D5060.worked great,used roughly 10 disks.tryin to decide how to tackle/fill the bolt holes...because of covid a lot of buses are being pulled from service...just bought a second one to turn into a toy hauler...tryin to stay focused on the first bus...lol cheers all
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Old 04-22-2021, 06:25 AM   #20
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I have deconstructed a 2001 Van Hool C2045L and I can tell you from the must have weekly massages to put my body back in shape that they have no rust and are exceedingly well built. They also have many advantages over school buses like storage, 80mph up a mountain road etc and thanks to covid can be found in the 10,000 dollar range of most school buses today. Take a hard look.
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