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Old 02-08-2012, 05:52 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 21
I need help choosing a bus.

Right now I'm looking at two totally different buses which both cost about 2500. I hope to get one and live in it for a couple of years while I go back to college. I will mostly be living in one area and boondock/urban stealth it when I can. I have little mechanical skills and will be working part time but would rather spend money on upgrading a bus than rent for some place I'll never see again.
The first bus is a 1953 Gillig. It was converted to a motorhome in the 70's and is registered as such. (Does anyone know if it is possible to get full coverage insurance with this old of a conversion since it was supposedly professionally done?) The interior is nice and complete and has a certain vintage almost steampunk charm to it. It has a 8 cylinder cat motor and a diesel generator. The bus had front end damage and the owner gave it to his buddy who rebuilt and rewired the front. During this the bus lost two feet of length?!?! The bus looks pretty nice despite (maybe because of) the body work. It is located a few hours from me but the owner is really hard to get ahold of but I might be able to find someone who knows more about diesels than I to check it out.
The next bus is a 1981 International. It was converted about five years ago using the interior of a travel trailer. There is no electric aside from what is needed to power the waterpump and normal bus lights. The interior is not custom or professionally done but it is functional. It is ugly both inside and out and kind of has a rainbow hippy look to it. This bus has a home made wvo set up with the tank inside of the bus instead of beneath it. The owner seems to know a lot about wvo (or at least compared to me which isn't hard). This bus also has air brakes. I would have to spend a day traveling to get to this beast so if I go there I'll probably get it.

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Old 02-08-2012, 08:15 PM   #2
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Location: Austin, TX
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Year: 1996
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Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/AT545
Re: I need help choosing a bus.

If you have limited mechanical skills I'd say it's a no-brainer to avoid a bus from the '50s in favor of one from the '80s. I'm sure the older bus is more charming and appealing on a visceral level, but I wouldn't want one that old and I actually have some mechanical skills. Hell, even 1981 is older than I'd want to deal with, but I would take that in a heartbeat over your other choice. I personally like diesel vehicles from the Mid-80's to late 90s. I have an '87 Mercedes, '93 F250, and '96 Bus. All of them are diesel and have had issues, but parts are readily available and mechanics who are familiar with them when a job goes beyond my abilities. So it comes down to do you want to be whimsical or practical? I know where I land on that scale. Don't get me wrong, the older buses are super cool, but ya gotta expect to be doing lots of mechanical work on them. Take a look at the Hubbly Bubbly Bus thread. Those guys have been stranded in their hip old bus for I don't know how long, and the the thing won't get them more than a few miles down the road before it breaks down again.
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:41 AM   #3
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Location: Oregon/Philippines
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Re: I need help choosing a bus.

In general i would suggest that one always choose a newer vehicle over an older one. However, from your description, both of these probably have many issues. If you have no mechanical or woodworking skills and need something to live in immediately, it might be wiser just to buy an s&s for now, until you have more funding for a bus. Also remember whatever motorhome you purchase may need a transmission or some other expensive part when you are traveling down the road, so it's wise to always have $3000. or so before you set out.

If you have the ability to do a conversion yourself, then for 2500 -3000 you probably can buy a 1990 or so bus. The 91 thomas pusher that i bought last year after selling my coach bus was cheap. I think my net cost for it was around 2600 after selling the seats, and they filled the fuel tank up before i left.

If you are looking at a bus, don't be afraid to offer the seller something like 60% or so of his asking price for immediate cash...
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Old 02-09-2012, 06:39 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 21
Re: I need help choosing a bus.

Whatever I get now I will probably be living in for at least the next six months if not the next two years. I can only find vehicles that dont run and some van-campers and c class rvs from the 70's for around the same price so the old bus is looking like a good option. I'm not going to spend all my tax refund on a bus as I'd like to have a little left for when it breaks down or if it keeps running perhaps adding solar for silent dry camping. Here is the ad for the bus that is still avaliable, the ad for the newer bus disappeared. I think this one might have sold too as I have not had much luck reaching the owner after we first spoke.
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Old 02-23-2012, 08:20 AM   #5
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Re: I need help choosing a bus.

Originally Posted by DarkLotus
I think this one might have sold too as I have not had much luck reaching the owner after we first spoke.
Looks like a solid bus. Have you tried to reach the owner once more?
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