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Old 03-01-2020, 04:59 PM   #1
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Is this bad?

I've been real excited about doing a skoolie myself for some time now. I just wanted to know everyone's opinion on this bus rust-wise and functionality-wise. It's a 2000 Bluebird TC2000 from Wisconsin. The undercarriage is what scares me a little. I am not afraid of work, as long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Can I stay or should I run?


















Other than this, everything else is fairly good or to be expected






All opinions and thoughts are welcomed and encouraged!
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Old 03-01-2020, 05:28 PM   #2
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I'd keep looking. Assuming that the bus is in good shape other than the visible damage, you still have a lot of hours of labor in rust mitigation. And, there is a moderate to high chance that there is a lot more rust you can't see. In the long run, you'd save time (and money) to get a bus several states away and drive it back.
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Old 03-01-2020, 05:37 PM   #3
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That is absolutely horrific rust. Run far away, quickly.

Check out my build thread to see a bus that was not nearly as bad as that one. This is what it looked like with the seats and floors out: https://imgur.com/a/yisoA9i. This was the start of the good times when I had the whole rusted out floor area cut out: https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/r...tml#post354860.

You're not going to find a non-rusty bus in Minnesota. Get ready to fly somewhere, pick up your non-rusted bus and drive it home. You have no other option.
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Old 03-01-2020, 05:38 PM   #4
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That sir or mam is a rust bucket. THe inner walls are all rotted out in at least a couple places. Just avoid it.
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Old 03-01-2020, 08:19 PM   #5
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Rust is like a iceberg, it's what you can't see that causes the most trouble.
The visible areas are much smaller than the total area that needs to be repaired.
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Old 03-01-2020, 08:20 PM   #6
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What part of Minnesota are you in? I spent a lot of time in the Brainerd Lakes area.
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Old 03-01-2020, 08:41 PM   #7
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What part of Minnesota are you in? I spent a lot of time in the Brainerd Lakes area.
Around St Cloud
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Old 03-01-2020, 08:57 PM   #8
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I would only consider buying something like that if I planned to cannibalize it for parts. *WAY* too much rust. Rear tires also have cracks due to age. Look further south and drive back something rust-free.



Also consider an air-ride rear suspension for a smoother ride.
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Old 03-01-2020, 09:00 PM   #9
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Move your search area to the west coast and AZ. Scour the auctions and a couple of dealers such as AAA Bus in Phoenix.
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Old 03-01-2020, 09:12 PM   #10
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As you shop for a bus, find out what engine, transmission and type of brakes it has (air or hydraulic). Generic descriptions such as "Diesel" engine and "Automatic" transmission aren't enough. If you get a VIN we can determine which engine came in it (not necessarily which one it has now!) Same for the transmission, you want an actual model, not just "Allison" (they produced several models over the years). Common engines are Cummins 5.9 and 8.3, Cat 3116, 3126, or C7, IH T444 or DT466, there are a few others but this gives you an idea. Common Allison transmissions are the AT545 (not a desirable transmission for much long distance driving), the 1000 or 2000 series and a couple others.
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Old 03-02-2020, 07:39 AM   #11
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Transmissions are important to consider:

I have an AT545 transmission. It's durable and reliable and can last hundreds of thousands of miles so long as you don't overheat it. It gets a worse rap than it deserves. I have a top speed of 58 mph. Interstates rarely have grades steep enough to drop me below about 52 mph. In a few mountain states, interstates can be up to 6% grade - that would probably slow me to 30-40 mph.

My slowest was a 2-mile 10% grade that slowed me to a max speed of 15 mph. Of course, I was also carrying 4 tons of cargo and pulling a pickup truck on a trailer.

Some of the medium-duty and heavy-duty transmissions can sustain higher speeds on the highway and especially on hills.

Other considerations:
-Engine (power, reliability, and cost of repair)
-Gas tank size
-Underbus storage
-rear engine versus front engine/dog nose

There are dozens of threads on these topics. Just do a forum search.
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Old 03-02-2020, 08:55 AM   #12
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That's so much rust! Much worse than the one I recently picked up from PA, and I'm borderline on that being too much.
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Old 03-02-2020, 09:11 AM   #13
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Yeah, I'm from Wisconsin and have driven buses here for a job the last 6 years.

We are very agressive with road salt in the winter and our buses reflect that. I've seen 3 year old buses with rotted out stairwells, that's how bad it is.

On some of those older ones the only thing holding the floors together is the plywood subfloor and the rubber matting.

That bus isn't worth more than $1500 or so, pretty much the only thing its good for is the motor (Dodge guys sometimes buy these buses just for that). Otherwise its scrapyard material at best.
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Old 03-02-2020, 09:16 AM   #14
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It would make a good chicken coop.
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Old 03-02-2020, 12:47 PM   #15
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The back end looks like my rusty bus. Although I don't think mine that rusty underneath especially in the front. Time will tell how much rust I actually have to deal with. Most will disagree but its easier for me to spend time fixing some rust than paying more cash upfront to purchase a southern bus. But, you never really know until you start working at it.
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Old 03-02-2020, 12:49 PM   #16
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Traveling down south or out west to get a rust free bus is so worth it.

I see people on here spending precious time and money during the course of their builds just fixing rust damage.

The travel expenses and premium prices for a rust free bus are well worth it just in terms of time saved, imo.
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Old 03-02-2020, 05:24 PM   #17
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The worst rust issues will always be what under the subfloor. If there are nasty rusted through holes on the outside, guaranteed the floor will be toast and I would run as fast as I could from that purchase. Musicgenius is our local prime example of what lies beneath.
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Old 03-02-2020, 06:49 PM   #18
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Damn, I guess I should've turned down my free-bus...

If you really don't want to travel, don't...

*Depends on your end goal -- how long are you going to keep this bus.

I think the people here freaking (yeah, you're freaking!) out about surface rust are trying to build their forever home on top of the metal and if you don't already know metal working than that task is daunting...

If you're fixing up a part-time toy (more like my case) then decide how many years you think you'll want to keep it and fix the rust according to that requirement...

I think fixing bus rust is easy (we'll what happens when I actually start mine) since the angles are almost all 90 -- means you do most of the fixes with square tubing or angle iron and whatever other scrap is available to you...
Most of the repair work won't show so it only needs to be solid, not pretty -- making things pretty is what takes time...

Now, other concerns -- with a rusty undercarriage very carefully check all your metal brake lines for corrosion -- don't be afraid to pull and flex on things -- if they break off in your hand -- they were already broken!
One of the first things I had to replace on my bus was the power steering reservoir because it had rusted through -- It takes a lot for an oily can to rust through -- let that sink in a minute...
If a seller doesn't like the idea of you jabbing about the under carriage with a screwdriver to see if the rust is surface vs structural say "no problem, that means you think it's too rusty to be looked at, scrap value is ~$500. The price goes down if the engine and tranny don't run great." If the seller doesn't respect you for being wise at that point just smile and walk away. There will be other buses...

Check the actual date on the tires --
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Old 03-03-2020, 08:07 AM   #19
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Damn, I guess I should've turned down my free-bus...

If you really don't want to travel, don't...

*Depends on your end goal -- how long are you going to keep this bus.

I think the people here freaking (yeah, you're freaking!) out about surface rust are trying to build their forever home on top of the metal and if you don't already know metal working than that task is daunting...

If you're fixing up a part-time toy (more like my case) then decide how many years you think you'll want to keep it and fix the rust according to that requirement...

I think fixing bus rust is easy (we'll what happens when I actually start mine) since the angles are almost all 90 -- means you do most of the fixes with square tubing or angle iron and whatever other scrap is available to you...
Most of the repair work won't show so it only needs to be solid, not pretty -- making things pretty is what takes time...

Now, other concerns -- with a rusty undercarriage very carefully check all your metal brake lines for corrosion -- don't be afraid to pull and flex on things -- if they break off in your hand -- they were already broken!
One of the first things I had to replace on my bus was the power steering reservoir because it had rusted through -- It takes a lot for an oily can to rust through -- let that sink in a minute...
If a seller doesn't like the idea of you jabbing about the under carriage with a screwdriver to see if the rust is surface vs structural say "no problem, that means you think it's too rusty to be looked at, scrap value is ~$500. The price goes down if the engine and tranny don't run great." If the seller doesn't respect you for being wise at that point just smile and walk away. There will be other buses...

Check the actual date on the tires --
This is good advice. Depends on what you are going to do with the bus. If selling all you possessions and moving into a bus then yes I'd agree you want a good solid bus. If its your first attempt at a conversion for vacations and weekends then maybe this bus will do.
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Old 03-03-2020, 09:38 AM   #20
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I think the people here freaking (yeah, you're freaking!) out about surface rust are trying to build their forever home on top of the metal and if you don't already know metal working than that task is daunting...
Nobody here is freaking. If OP isn't a metal fabricator and doesn't want to become one (which seems to be the case with a majority of skoolie builders, especially the newbies) then this is an absolutely horrible bus for them, about the worst they could possibly fall into. If OP wants to jump into that mess, they will happily disregard us freaks' advice.

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I think fixing bus rust is easy (we'll see what happens when I actually start mine)
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