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Old 02-12-2020, 06:10 PM   #1
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Help with potential school bus purchase

We're gathering details on a bus in Colorado from a private seller. It's a heck of a drive and we want a bit of certainty about what we're getting before striking a deal and heading that way. The bus hits all our specs, but there are a few things in the videos we've received that look like leaks that give us pause. Would someone here with more experience take a minute to check out some images from the videos, and possibly the videos themselves in private, and weigh in with an opinion? Bus is a 2000 International 3800 with DT466E, MD3060, air suspension, engine coolant heater, and driveline retarder. Thank you for your help!
Attached Images
File Type: png Fluid.png (1.27 MB, 24 views)
File Type: png Oil on Bottom of Engine, From Above.png (1.05 MB, 22 views)
File Type: png Oil on Bottom Rear of Oil Pan, Passenger Side.png (905.7 KB, 20 views)
File Type: png Fluid on Air Suspension.png (1.08 MB, 18 views)
File Type: png Oil on Bottom Rear of Oil Pan, Driver Side.png (1.24 MB, 22 views)
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:48 PM   #2
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Pretty clean looking bus. Chances of finding a 20 year old bus with zero leaks would be slim and none. What's the asking price?
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:59 PM   #3
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We're gathering details on a bus in Colorado from a private seller. It's a heck of a drive and we want a bit of certainty about what we're getting before striking a deal and heading that way. The bus hits all our specs, but there are a few things in the videos we've received that look like leaks that give us pause. Would someone here with more experience take a minute to check out some images from the videos, and possibly the videos themselves in private, and weigh in with an opinion? Bus is a 2000 International 3800 with DT466E, MD3060, air suspension, engine coolant heater, and driveline retarder. Thank you for your help!
If its the bus I'm thinking of take note the seller is a flipper and only paid 5k a few weeks ago. Does it have "171K" on the odometer?
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Old 02-12-2020, 07:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for sharing that, o1marc. We like what we see overall, just want to be sure we're not getting into something that's gonna kill us in repairs within the next few years. I can change fluids and filters and sense differences in how an engine and transmission feel, and we know we're gonna have to pony up for repairs in the long term, but wanna avoid a time bomb under the hood.

The asking price is north of $10K.
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Old 02-12-2020, 07:07 PM   #5
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Thanks for sharing that, o1marc. We like what we see overall, just want to be sure we're not getting into something that's gonna kill us in repairs within the next few years. I can change fluids and filters and sense differences in how an engine and transmission feel, and we know we're gonna have to pony up for repairs in the long term, but wanna avoid a time bomb under the hood.

The asking price is north of $10K.
Its not a 10k bus, IMO. The guy selling it paid like $5500, which is way more in line with what its worth if its the bus I'm thinking of.
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Old 02-12-2020, 08:13 PM   #6
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If its the bus I'm thinking of take note the seller is a flipper and only paid 5k a few weeks ago. Does it have "171K" on the odometer?
Yeah, probably the same bus. If so, the flipper/owner likely knows little to nothing about the bus aside from what the auction listed. If it's from Eagle County, they probably supplied the winner of the auction with service records. I'd ask to see them. As a matter of fact, if you know the bus number you might be able to talk to the manager of the bus barn and find out if there are any issues with the bus. Depends on how much work you want to get into I guess. For that kind of money I'd want to at least know that the tires aren't past the expiration date (there should be a date stamp on the sidewall of each tire), since that's a couple/few grand investment itself. We've got a similar, but older, bus from Eagle Co. and they really did maintain it pretty well. Another bus that I know of from the same district, though, had the liner seals fail and it cost the new owner right around 10K for the engine rebuild.
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Old 02-12-2020, 08:30 PM   #7
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You could find a reputable mechanic to go check it out for probably around $100. if it is not too far out of town. I would go that route if I had to invest a lot to get there.

10k is a lot for a 10yr old auction bus. Usually they seem to go for around 6k
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Old 02-12-2020, 08:58 PM   #8
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When the seller bought it for $5500, he thought he was getting taken.
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Old 02-12-2020, 09:40 PM   #9
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When the seller bought it for $5500, he thought he was getting taken.
Did they twist his arm and force him to bid?
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Old 02-13-2020, 01:44 PM   #10
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Yeah, probably the same bus. If so, the flipper/owner likely knows little to nothing about the bus aside from what the auction listed. If it's from Eagle County, they probably supplied the winner of the auction with service records. I'd ask to see them. As a matter of fact, if you know the bus number you might be able to talk to the manager of the bus barn and find out if there are any issues with the bus. Depends on how much work you want to get into I guess. For that kind of money I'd want to at least know that the tires aren't past the expiration date (there should be a date stamp on the sidewall of each tire), since that's a couple/few grand investment itself. We've got a similar, but older, bus from Eagle Co. and they really did maintain it pretty well. Another bus that I know of from the same district, though, had the liner seals fail and it cost the new owner right around 10K for the engine rebuild.
Thanks for suggesting getting in touch with the school district's transportation department. I've got a call in and the person I spoke with said they'll get back to me after their department finishes a meeting they're in this afternoon.

The seller sent a picture of a stack of maintenance records at least as tall as my hand is wide and said it'd take hours to scan and send all of that. I feel them. If I was there, I'd go through that stack over a couple of drinks and feel a lot better.

The tires couldn't be prettier, actually. I don't know the date of manufacture, but if they've been sitting around looking like that for the 5-7 years I was taught to start thinking about replacement, they were a marvel when brand new. You're right, though. You never know when tires sat for years before being installed.

Yikes, are DT466 rebuilds really that much? I guess it depends on the book time and cost at your particular mechanic, but I thought it was somewhere in the $1000-$1500 range for the kit and 30 hours or so in the book.
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Old 02-13-2020, 01:47 PM   #11
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You could find a reputable mechanic to go check it out for probably around $100. if it is not too far out of town. I would go that route if I had to invest a lot to get there.

10k is a lot for a 10yr old auction bus. Usually they seem to go for around 6k
I'm trying to find and price a Colorado Springs mechanic who'll do a house call now. $100 sounds like a song but I'll take it.

The bus is actually 20 years old but the engine was supposed to have been swapped about 45K miles ago, at about the 130K mark. I'd love to know why an engine that young needed a replacement. Any guesses?
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Old 02-13-2020, 02:10 PM   #12
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Thank you, folks who've given some time to answer here. Some of you know the story behind this bus and, while it's not worth $10K to us or just about anyone else, we feel it's worth somewhere north of what the seller paid for it, depending on the situation. Our conversion means we're taking a year and change off our travel schedule, but we do have to travel to see close family out west who can't get over this way. That and...who wants to boil in the southeastern summer? We could try to win the best for us bus at auction, but if we can negotiate the seller's premium to something that works for us, get the bus home, and get to converting, why not? Anyhow, if we don't get this bus, we're still in the game, looking for a 10 or 11-window conventional, late 90's to 2003 DT466, Allison 2000 or better but probably not an MT643, with air suspension and air brakes. Driver air conditioning, a little factory underbody storage, and a driveline retarder would be icing on the cake. If you see one around...

P.S. I read one or two folks who suggested calling school systems one by one to see what they're retiring. Do many systems sell direct like that?
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Old 02-13-2020, 02:24 PM   #13
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Most states have laws that require their school districts to offer unused assets at auction to the general public. Pretty rare to see a district sell a bus directly to an individual without auctioning it.

You might get some districts that still do offline sealed bid auctions. I always think there's some seriously good deals to be had there but it would require tons and tons of legwork.

In my personal opinion, hell no way is that bus worth anywhere near 10k. Offer him 1k over and be ready to walk.

I found my 35 ft pusher with the 8.3 Cummins, factory AC, 77" high roof, trans retarder and full understorage in Colorado for $4000. Not everybody scores that kind of a deal but my point is 10k is absurd especially for a conventional.
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:11 PM   #14
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I'm trying to find and price a Colorado Springs mechanic who'll do a house call now. $100 sounds like a song but I'll take it.

The bus is actually 20 years old but the engine was supposed to have been swapped about 45K miles ago, at about the 130K mark. I'd love to know why an engine that young needed a replacement. Any guesses?
Oh... now this bus sounds familiar. That guy was on here and supposedly "sold it"/ many of us had our doubts. Personally I don't buy things from people with stories that don't add up. They tend to make up stories that extract the most money from people/ on the other end that usually equals getting screwed.

Sometimes a new engine can be a good thing ? Sometimes it is a sign of a lemon that has a history of needing expensive work. The maintenance records might tell the story.

I am not real dialed in on bus prices so take my info with a grain of salt. When I see auction buses listed for more then 6k they usually sit for a while. I hear stories of people getting pretty good auction buses for 3-5k. Personally to me it would be worth some money to not go thru the auction hassle, maybe $1000. but not $5000..
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Old 02-13-2020, 08:16 PM   #15
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Yikes, are DT466 rebuilds really that much? I guess it depends on the book time and cost at your particular mechanic, but I thought it was somewhere in the $1000-$1500 range for the kit and 30 hours or so in the book.
This person had the rebuild done by an International dealer, and he mentioned that it was more expensive than other shops. He also had some other minor work done and that was factored in too. Still sounded like an expensive job though, esp. since the bus was 8K when he bought it.
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Old 02-13-2020, 09:05 PM   #16
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Most states have laws that require their school districts to offer unused assets at auction to the general public. Pretty rare to see a district sell a bus directly to an individual without auctioning it.

You might get some districts that still do offline sealed bid auctions. I always think there's some seriously good deals to be had there but it would require tons and tons of legwork.

In my personal opinion, hell no way is that bus worth anywhere near 10k. Offer him 1k over and be ready to walk.

I found my 35 ft pusher with the 8.3 Cummins, factory AC, 77" high roof, trans retarder and full understorage in Colorado for $4000. Not everybody scores that kind of a deal but my point is 10k is absurd especially for a conventional.
The bus I bought in Beaverton, Ore. the shop manager said they used to sell the buses locally but got little response and ended up sending a bunch to scrap before they started listing on GovDeals.
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:32 PM   #17
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This person had the rebuild done by an International dealer, and he mentioned that it was more expensive than other shops. He also had some other minor work done and that was factored in too. Still sounded like an expensive job though, esp. since the bus was 8K when he bought it.
by the time you replace the sleeves and pistons and do any work on the head its easy to spend tend grand or more. OR if you end up with the hot potato that is a leaky timing cover on a DT.
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Old 02-14-2020, 12:07 AM   #18
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by the time you replace the sleeves and pistons and do any work on the head its easy to spend tend grand or more.
Yeah, that's a pretty big fear of ours. Any magic elixir to add to the crankcase to prevent this leaking liner seals issue? To be clear, we're not experiencing signs of it but I understand it can be an issue on these engines. I know it's overheated at least once
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Old 02-14-2020, 04:14 AM   #19
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Yeah, that's a pretty big fear of ours. Any magic elixir to add to the crankcase to prevent this leaking liner seals issue? To be clear, we're not experiencing signs of it but I understand it can be an issue on these engines. I know it's overheated at least once
Check your coolant with test strips regularly.
Yours is mechanical and FAR less susceptible to probs but coolant is crucial for the DT's.
If you've never changed it you should.
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Old 02-14-2020, 12:22 PM   #20
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Glancing at bus ads this am I see a nice collection of buses nicer then this for half the cost. You would be getting a very poor deal at $10k
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