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View Poll Results: Did I make a mistake with this purchase? What should I do?
Sell it! There are better buses with in the 2-3k range. 2 28.57%
Sell it and save more for a better bus. 4 57.14%
Get rid of it, get a van and get a bus in the near future. 0 0%
No. Its not that bad and still worth of a conversion. 1 14.29%
Voters: 7. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-15-2021, 08:39 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: EastCoast
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Year: 2000
Engine: 6.5
I think I made a mistake!

Slightly long read. LDTR Discovered that my short bus has alot of rust should I keep it or sell it. Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, didn't know what place was best to post this in.

I'm located on the East Coast/Tri-state. I've been wanting to do a bus conversion for years. I finally got the funds summer of 2020. I bought a 2000 Chevrolet Express Diesel 230k miles $2,500 from Queens, NY.





I originally wanted a 5-6 window diesel turbo short bus with a side door within the 3k range. I found one but the owner didn't seem like he had any real intention of meeting up (only communicated through email and took forever to respond).

I ended up going with the Chevy due to the fact the owner was quick to give his number, communication was quick, price was within my budget, bus looked and ran decent and there really weren't any other buses available.

My brother-in-law came with me to see it. He said there was some rust underneath but it looked good, however he didn't look fully underneath it. BIL drove it from Queens to CT, it drove fine but he said that it could use new breaks.

We finally removed everything and this what we're faced with.
https://youtu.be/adVCd2y1gQA
From doing my research I anticipated having to do rust treatment but I didn't expect this much. As you can see all of the ribs are rusted pretty much up to the top of the windows which I'm assuming was caused do to the windows needing to be resealed. BIL is a welder, he said he could put in sheet-metal to fix the floor and cut the ribs out to about where the windows are and weld in some new ribs however it would be alot of work.

Rust isn't the only issue. There are minor issues as well. When it rains or snows water comes in from around all of the doors (I'm assuming new seals are needed) and a little bit comes in around the windshield. When I press on the dashboard the plastic cracks. The passenger door doesn't close all the way as you can see in the picture and video, it stays slightly open. When we were driving back the door was flapping like crazy. I thought it was going to fly open, thank god for the metal clasp that's on the door handle. The back door doesn't always open easily. Sometimes I have to yank really hard to get it to open, I think it needs new a latch. A new key from the dealer is needed or I need to put in new locks. I tried to lock the doors one day but the key wouldn't work. I contacted the owner, he told me that it takes a separate key to lock it which he didn't have. He said that it would cost like $200 to get one from a dealer.

At this point I'm questioning whether its worth it to keep going with the conversion. I don't have any experience dealing with rust. BIL said the material to fix the interior rust wouldn't cost much but the time and labor for a job like that would be like $1000. I don't think I have the funds to treat all of the rust (especially the exterior/underneath rust), pay him (if he does decide to charge that much) and still do the build. He also said that he has no idea how to go about dealing with the exterior rust. Then like I said there's the minor issues and on top of all of that god forbid if any mechanically maintenance is needed.

When I think about selling it I think about how long it will take to find a new bus. But then on the other hand I was thinking that it maybe best to sell it and do a conversion on an extended van until I'm able to save up for a bus. At this point I'm realizing that I need to save up to about 4-6k if I want a decent bus and then probably another 4k for the conversation.

I figure I could try to find a van with an extended roof or do a diy extended roof. Was thinking of a van like this...

I measured the bus and looked up the length of an extended van, I'd get about the same living space. I know that I could just sell the bus and continue to save until I find a 5-6 window diesel short bus but I have no idea how long it will take to find one. What do you guys think?

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Old 02-16-2021, 07:12 PM   #2
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I looked at a bus from MD. It was in GA. The first thing I did was look under. The frame was so rusty, it felt like I could crush it with my fingers. I passed on all his buses - all rusty like that.


He told me of a young girl who had just bought one the week before, and had it painted within a week. I felt so bad for her.


The old adage: buyer beware.


I would look for a bus with less rust. I got mine for $2285 in Tucson. No rust.


The other leaks are also expensive issues, especially if the leak around your windshield has rusted out the frame there.


There will still be other issues to deal with, mechanically, on a 20 year old bus that seems to have seen little maintenance.


Probably too late, but will the owner take it back due to lemon laws? Or does that only apply to dealers.....
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Old 02-16-2021, 08:07 PM   #3
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I hate you are in this position. IMHO I would sell and keep looking. I will offer my 2 cents as to selling. I am afraid you may have a hard time reselling due to what you have uncovered. Do not try a cover it up. You could be sued. My thought is list the drivetrain for sale, not so much the bus. Diesel engines are not cheap and you may be able to recoup some of your money, quicker, that way. So sorry for your, harsh, learning experience. Best of luck.
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Old 02-16-2021, 08:18 PM   #4
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It's definitely badly rusted. Your best bet is probably to resell it and try again, although I personally wouldn't feel good about passing this on to somebody else since the only person who would buy it is somebody that knows nothing about rust. If you do choose to proceed, one thing in your favor is that the bus is very small and you would correspondingly have much less rust remediation to do (my bus was in similar condition being from Buffalo - check out my build thread if you want to see what kind of work goes into fixing this sort of thing, although you probably won't get far with the thread before deciding to drive your bus into the river).

No offense to your BIL but it sounds like he knows absolutely nothing about dealing with rust in vehicles if he let you buy this thing in the first place - its problems are quite obvious from the outside. Welding sheet metal patches over the holes in the floor is correct (and relatively easy), but cutting out and replacing parts of the ribs is a no-go - way too much work and you're mucking with the structural integrity of the bus body. The good news is that replacing the ribs is also unnecessary; the rust on them is just surface and can be dealt with easily.

The fact that your BIL wants to charge you for labor to fix this after letting you buy it in the first place bothers me enough that I would offer to weld up your floor for you (for free) if you could get it to Philly. But with the bad brakes (and probably other mechanical problems that you just haven't run into yet) and all of the additional work you would have to do to treat the rust, you're probably better off eating the $2500 - which in the grand scheme of things is a cheap lesson (don't ask me how much rust has cost me).
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Old 02-16-2021, 08:20 PM   #5
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Vans arenít bad!

BTW. I am still searching for my, perfect, bus also. I did buy a van though. My family of 4 regularly go for weekend camping trips and have really enjoyed it. I purchased it from a local church in 2019 with a whopping 78k miles on it for a VERY nice $1000 and it had new 10 ply Toyo tires on it. It is a 1996 Dodge 1ton just like the pic you included. I have included a pic as I acquired it, a exterior pic current and a, unfinished, interior pic. I have since done more on inside, but canít seem to find any pics right now. Good luck in finding your dream.
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File Type: jpg F4206DCD-CFAD-466E-AF79-B64364E5CC45.jpg (207.7 KB, 15 views)
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Old 02-16-2021, 08:22 PM   #6
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One last thing: $4K for a skoolie conversion is pretty unrealistically low.
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Old 02-16-2021, 08:37 PM   #7
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You would be better off to sell it and move on. If it is safe to drive I would sell it as a "work vehicle" and maybe somebody that needs a cheap vehicle to move / store building materials could make use of it. Or you may be able to recoup some money selling it for the drive train.

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Old 02-16-2021, 09:14 PM   #8
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Yeah, just sell it as a work/cargo van, don't spend you time fixing rust, unless it is something unique, and this isn't unique.
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:01 PM   #9
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I would have to agree that selling it for the engine, tranny or as a work vehicle would be the best way to recoup most of your money.

While there may not be a lot of buses in your area, there are many around the country that have not lived their lives in the salt states. Yes, you have to travel to pick it up, but think of the fun of driving it home, rust free!

Good carpentry and paint can really make up for used materials. A large amount of my conversion was supplied with material from craigslist. My kitchen drawers are from a free dresser, half of my insulation (4'x8' for $8 a sheet), my awesome 3/4" plywood floors and cabinets (4'X8' for $15 a sheet), my stainless steel Elkay 16 guage sink ($40), and my $160 retail kitchen faucet ($50). I built my composting toilet using scrap lumber, a 5 spare 5 gallon bucket and a 1 gallon plastic milk jug. I only had to buy the funnel ($4).

So, your build doesn't have to be really expensive. Also, there are lots of conversions that use very basic and simple systems. You don't need to run expensive and extensive electrical, plumbing, etc.

My point is, put your money into a quality bus, then scrimp and save on the items and materials to convert it.

Hang in there!
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:32 PM   #10
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$200 for a typical GM door key? *coughs while muttering "bullsh*t"*

Unless it's an electronic key (which I doubt, they are only for anti-theft systems and have nothing to do with separately keyed door locks), these keys can be made with proof of ownership for about $7-$15 at any GM dealer. Or, alternately, a qualified locksmith can sometimes make a key from the glove box lock cylinder. Third option is to re-key, but neither is necessary, if you have proof of ownership.

However, the key is the least of your worries. I've seen worse, but not often. It's not so far gone it can't be saved, but I agree with the others here, that's a fair bit of rust for what you paid. You might get lucky parting it out and get back most of your money. The engine and trans might be worth $500-$1000 if in good shape. The catch there is that a 2000 diesel is a 6.5L and probably not that much in demand, as it has been out of production for about 20 years.

Or see what a chop shop or body shop would give you for it. The taillights, front/rear doors, hood, fenders, bumpers and grille are all salvageable (possibly no rust) and worth something to the right person. You might get lucky and find someone with a similar van that rear-ended someone and needs the front clip and doors. That stuff new is probably $1500 or more in parts, and they might be willing to give you more than scrap price for it. Probably get rid of it much faster too. Maybe someone needs a windshield and can't afford a new one? Maybe a member here has a similar bus and needs windows or something... You never know. But bus windows ARE specific to the coach manufacturer.

Kinda ridiculous your BIL wants to charge you labor to fix this thing after it was essentially his lack of proper inspection that led you to make a deal. You mention you are on the East Coast. How close are you to Virginia? If you might be interested in larger buses, I know of a place that has about 100. They aren't perfect, but, I think, in better shape than this, most are priced $3500-$5000. I also know where a 2005 conversion is with a gas 6.0, but it ain't cheap.

I'm curious -- is there a specific reason you bought a diesel? Or is that just what this one happened to have? You should probably read my thread "Re-Routing Skoolie Exhaust Overhead" - specifically post #59 on page 3. You also might want to read the four threads referenced in my sig to aid in your search, as your post indicates you might have wanted to do a bit more research before making this purchase... Not saying that to be condescending, of course, just trying to help you fully explore your options and get a sense of what it is you're going for here.
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:34 PM   #11
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Run, sell it to someone who wants to use it for a hauler. That 6.5 detroit is a junk motor and that tranny is probably roached. Donít invest another dime, next bus you buy get a mechanic to get it up in the air and inspect it. That is too much rust mine had some rust too and it cost me a ton of money.
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:28 AM   #12
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Yeah, sell it for what you can and move on.

I made a crap car decision when I was younger. I lost all I invested. Don’t let it get you down, just don’t fall into the sunk cost trap.

Come back here to get opinions before you go for the next one

Good luck
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:32 AM   #13
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You are in a tough spot. Looking at your video twice now. It appears to have a new or rebuild transmission seeing how clean that area is.
Not sure what the brakes issues are so I would look into that first.
If the engine is staring and running good then i would be a toss up.
Music... has a lot of experience with rust. This is how most vehicles are from the rust belt.
The rust in the floor in the back seems to be one big sheet. Then I see two rusted thru ribs that would have to be replaced.

This Van has the advantage of a passenger door with the option of a normal swivel seat.
It also appears to be a high interior bus so there is some advantage as well.


I agree BIL does not have a clue. It is a shame you did not get a more qualified person involved.

It is hard to see what is going on while the interior is still in the bus but from below he should have a raised some flags.. If the tranny is new then $2500 for a diesel bus seems to be not to bad if you are able and willing to do the work yourself. Not saying it is a wise purchase for this kind of a project,

I have been there myself with an 4x4 rusted ambulance from pittsburg with a broken tranny. The $1500 delivered and the 4x4 got me hooked. I think I had he tranny rebuild for $1900. we spend a lot of time converting it and had good adventures but the rust ,, the rust,, .. It al worked out the tranny is now a spare, the 4x4 is reused under the bus and many parts of the interior have found new applications,


You can make it live for another 10 years if you are willing to do all the work yourself. Paying someone $50 to $80/ h to repair the rust is a very bad plan. Rust is like cancer, once started you can delay it but it is very hard to cure.

If you want to stick with it then learn , or maybe you know already how to use a grinder, fix the brakes and take Music up on his very generous offer.
like Music .. You will really own that bus and it could like that provide you with an experience that is worth a lot more then $2500.
Converting that size bus for $ 4000 including solar is very doable.
Just look at FB for used 12 V refrigerators, solar panels etc.




Good luck,


Johan
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:34 AM   #14
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Expensive lesson, move on, been there, done that too....
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Old 02-20-2021, 04:37 PM   #15
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Press on

Been where you are. Understanding, not judging. Replaced the metal. Moved on. I assure you there will be lots of laborious challenges in any build you pursue. This is just the first. In the budget range you seek, with the willing bro-in-law welder, with bus now disassembled, itís still a go IMO. Selling it now youíll take a significant loss$$. Easy for others to say buy something else and not count your loss in the equation. Obviously since you could see the blemishes / rust on the outside, you were willing to endeavor do an exterior patch job, so if you can with BRo-in-law get to a satisfactory outer repair aesthetic youíre really not off track for a low budget build which many of us aim at. No shame there. Only thing to change that and make me recommend to take your losses would be if the frame is bad enough not to be not repairable by welder BRO IN LAW and if there are major mechanical issues. Flooring metal is cheap relative to the whole build cost. Inspect and reinforce frame especially over back axle NOW whil itís accessible from the top. Advice: cut out more floor than you think and get access to all the other goodies underneath that inevitably get added/modified/repaired cause itís a WHOLE lot easier now while itís wide open. Itís not all bad. Many others have been where you are. Lots of us can offer good ideas. Way more can criticize. Good luck!
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Old 02-20-2021, 06:02 PM   #16
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OP has offered this bus up for resale on reddit, on /r/SkoolieMarketplace. I'd like to commend OP for being totally upfront about the rust condition in this listing - they even linked the same video showing all the rust damage.
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Old 02-20-2021, 07:43 PM   #17
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Way to go SkooleeGrl! May your honesty repay you ten fold with an amazing bus!

Somebody find this lady a bus!!
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Old 02-20-2021, 08:40 PM   #18
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Chassis: Ford e450
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Perhaps not terribly helpful as the bus is Pending, but, this is in MD and looks okay (also good interior headroom):

https://www.facebook.com/commerce/li...are_attachment

They are out there!

Use searchtempest.com to search craigslists. I am in the NE and found my shortie on craigslist in VT; it had recently been driven from the SW. But as others said, expect to pay more than you may have originally thought..
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Old 02-20-2021, 10:32 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Engine: 6.5
Thanks for all the responses. I've decided to sell it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Gnome View Post
He told me of a young girl who had just bought one the week before, and had it painted within a week. I felt so bad for her.
Sad. She probably didn't look underneath the bus as well as has no idea what's hiding where the eyes can't see. I've seen a few conversion where the where all they did was remove the seats and then start their conversion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Gnome View Post
I would look for a bus with less rust. I got mine for $2285 in Tucson. No rust.
Good to know that I good bus for that price. Will definitely be expanding my search. Took a quick peep at Colorado and they seem to have quite a few buses in that price range.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Gnome View Post
The other leaks are also expensive issues, especially if the leak around your windshield has rusted out the frame there.
I felt around the windshield today, there wasn't any wetness. There other day there was ice on the inside of the windshield. I thought water was getting in from around the seals of the windshield but I'm think it might have been condensation and or the water from the door making it way down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Gnome View Post
There will still be other issues to deal with, mechanically, on a 20 year old bus that seems to have seen little maintenance.
I figure that there will be which is why I decided to sell it. I'd love to keep it because its a good size for me but I have a feeling that the rust is or will be the tip of the iceberg. I don't want to waste money especially if I can get something better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Gnome View Post
Probably too late, but will the owner take it back due to lemon laws? Or does that only apply to dealers.....
Unfortunately it doesn't apply to me.
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Old 02-20-2021, 10:36 PM   #20
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Join Date: May 2018
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Posts: 19
Year: 2000
Engine: 6.5
Quote:
Originally Posted by cai70 View Post
I hate you are in this position. IMHO I would sell and keep looking. I will offer my 2 cents as to selling. I am afraid you may have a hard time reselling due to what you have uncovered. Do not try a cover it up. You could be sued. My thought is list the drivetrain for sale, not so much the bus. Diesel engines are not cheap and you may be able to recoup some of your money, quicker, that way. So sorry for your, harsh, learning experience. Best of luck.
Thanks. I've put it up for sale. I listed everything that I posted here. I'm not in a rush to sell it quickly but if it doesn't sell after a few weeks I will definitely try selling it for parts.
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