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Old 10-01-2020, 10:01 PM   #1
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Exclamation Is this rust a dealbreaker?

Hi all! We went and looked at a bus today - a 2007 6 window with an MBE904 and Allison transmission, less than 200k miles and fleet maintained. We really loved it! But being new to this, we found some rust spots we thought would be good to ask advice on. Weíre in PA, so rust is not surprising...trying to decide if this is a deal breaker.

- First 3 photos is the worst rust on the main support beams
- 4th photo is the worst rust on one of the cross support beams
- 5th photo is the worst rust we found, this was holding up the gas tank, which was new this summer.
- 6th photo is the bottom of the emergency exit
- 7th is the corner of the emergency exit door
- 8th is painted over bumper, looks like it may have been rust treated?
- 9th is the worst rust inside, near the wheel well
- 10th is the stair well

Thoughts? Does any of this look like a dealbreaker?

Overall, we thought the bus was in great condition! Especially for PA. We appreciate your input!
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Old 10-01-2020, 10:08 PM   #2
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It's moderate, but I think it can be saved with blasting and paint. How are the floors? Suspension/axle/steering mounts?
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Old 10-01-2020, 10:24 PM   #3
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It's moderate, but I think it can be saved with blasting and paint. How are the floors? Suspension/axle/steering mounts?
I didnít notice anything worth taking a picture of, but we did spend most of our time on the frame. Here are some pics from under the hood as well.
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Old 10-01-2020, 10:28 PM   #4
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It's moderate, but I think it can be saved with blasting and paint. How are the floors? Suspension/axle/steering mounts?
Forgot to add, floors looked good from what I could see! We walked between all the seats and they were solid, no major rust where the wall meets the floor.
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Old 10-01-2020, 10:52 PM   #5
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Mercedes Benz engines are good, but expensive to repair and some are hard to get parts for. Some you can't get the parts. Do your research about the engine this one has.

Also, poke the underside of the floor with a screwdriver. If anything pokes through or majorly flakes away you could be looking at some metal repair / replacement.

I see a hydraulic master cylinder. Check the brake lines and fittings for rust.

You may want to familiarize yourself with the following safety checklist I've compiled. I was an OTR trucker for about 4-5 years...

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f9/re...ist-33026.html
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Old 10-01-2020, 11:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
Mercedes Benz engines are good, but expensive to repair and some are hard to get parts for. Some you can't get the parts. Do your research about the engine this one has.

Also, poke the underside of the floor with a screwdriver. If anything pokes through or majorly flakes away you could be looking at some metal repair / replacement.

I see a hydraulic master cylinder. Check the brake lines and fittings for rust.

You may want to familiarize yourself with the following safety checklist I've compiled. I was an OTR trucker for about 4-5 years...

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f9/re...ist-33026.html
That list is EXTENSIVE! Weíll be referring to it!
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Old 10-01-2020, 11:52 PM   #7
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I'd say that's pretty badly rusted. What's actually shown in the pics is fixable, but I think you're almost certain to find a lot of rust damage on the floor once you get the plywood up - unless none of your windows have leaked, which isn't terribly likely. By "rust damage" I don't mean the stuff you Ospho and paint over, but stuff you have to cut away and replace with new metal welded in place (if the damage is to the crossmembers of the floor, then that's even more work than just repairing rust on the flat part of the floor).

Rust on the front bumper is pretty rare even on badly rusted buses. The rust on this one (which might just be hastily painted as opposed to treated) is likely from water leaking through the holes in the hood made for the supports of the round mirrors and then dripping down onto the headlight housing and then onto the bumper. If you pop the hood and can see the headlight housing from behind, you'll probably see it badly rusted out as well (unless they've replaced it already). It's not very difficult or expensive to replace the housing, so this isn't really a big deal.

I bought a badly rusted bus - yours is probably not as bad as mine, but it could be, because in some areas your external signs of rust are worse than mine were. One thing to pay very close attention to is the state of the entire exhaust system, from the engine through the muffler and all the way to the back. Mine was rusted out pretty badly and is currently in the shop being replaced in its entirety, which is not inexpensive.

Rust just manifests itself as so much extra work and expense in so many ways.
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Old 10-02-2020, 12:15 AM   #8
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I'd say that's pretty badly rusted. What's actually shown in the pics is fixable, but I think you're almost certain to find a lot of rust damage on the floor once you get the plywood up - unless none of your windows have leaked, which isn't terribly likely. By "rust damage" I don't mean the stuff you Ospho and paint over, but stuff you have to cut away and replace with new metal welded in place (if the damage is to the crossmembers of the floor, then that's even more work than just repairing rust on the flat part of the floor).

Rust on the front bumper is pretty rare even on badly rusted buses. The rust on this one (which might just be hastily painted as opposed to treated) is likely from water leaking through the holes in the hood made for the supports of the round mirrors and then dripping down onto the headlight housing and then onto the bumper. If you pop the hood and can see the headlight housing from behind, you'll probably see it badly rusted out as well (unless they've replaced it already). It's not very difficult or expensive to replace the housing, so this isn't really a big deal.

I bought a badly rusted bus - yours is probably not as bad as mine, but it could be, because in some areas your external signs of rust are worse than mine were. One thing to pay very close attention to is the state of the entire exhaust system, from the engine through the muffler and all the way to the back. Mine was rusted out pretty badly and is currently in the shop being replaced in its entirety, which is not inexpensive.

Rust just manifests itself as so much extra work and expense in so many ways.
Thanks for the input! I started reading through your build thread - I didnít get too far (yet) but it looks like you had a lot of rust on that floor!! We might go back and do a second inspection before we decide for certain, I feel like our bus wonít have that much rust based our our inspection - that is, we didnít find any soft spots in the floor. Iíll be reading through your thread to see how you solved some of your issues - looks like itís going to be very informative!
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Old 10-02-2020, 06:11 AM   #9
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From the pics, I would not say it is a deal breaker, but it certainly should make you enter the deal knowing what you are getting into. I think part of it depends on how long you anticipate keeping the bus. Big difference between 15 years or 30 years. Also depends on whether you are willing to drive south to purchase a rust free bus. For some of us living in the north, purchasing a bus in the south isn't going to happen.

I would definitely purchases a sandblaster. That will help immensely... especially in that area by the door jamb. I'd rip that seal off and any caulk and sandblast the rust away. Same thing on the front bumper... sandblast the rust off.

If you do have rust holes in your floor, it isn't that big of a deal to cut out and lay down new sheet metal patches. The frame rust would be the least of my concerns... something that could be tackled years down the road if wanted to tackle at all. You won't find a bus north of the mason dixon that doesn't have rust on the frame.

The sheet metal of a bus body is generally much thicker than the sheet metal on a normal vehicle. So, rust progresses a little slower than what it does on a car.
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Old 10-02-2020, 06:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesantoros View Post
Thanks for the input! I started reading through your build thread - I didnít get too far (yet) but it looks like you had a lot of rust on that floor!! We might go back and do a second inspection before we decide for certain, I feel like our bus wonít have that much rust based our our inspection - that is, we didnít find any soft spots in the floor. Iíll be reading through your thread to see how you solved some of your issues - looks like itís going to be very informative!
FWIW, there were no soft spots in my floor detectable by walking around on it, even after the seats were out. In retrospect there were obvious external signs of the wheel well damage (like the fact that I could see into my bus from the outside), but spongey floor wasn't one of them. I think the reason for this is that the rust-through on the steel was so bad that it allowed the plywood to dry out from underneath, so the plywood remained in good, un-rotted shape. Good plywood supported by crossmembers every 10" or so is going to remain firm, even when there are giant holes in the sheet metal underneath it.
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Old 10-02-2020, 10:38 AM   #11
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FWIW, there were no soft spots in my floor detectable by walking around on it, even after the seats were out. In retrospect there were obvious external signs of the wheel well damage (like the fact that I could see into my bus from the outside), but spongey floor wasn't one of them. I think the reason for this is that the rust-through on the steel was so bad that it allowed the plywood to dry out from underneath, so the plywood remained in good, un-rotted shape. Good plywood supported by crossmembers every 10" or so is going to remain firm, even when there are giant holes in the sheet metal underneath it.
Oh, thanks for the input! That does make sense. I didnít see those sorts of holes, but itís always a risk I guess.
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Old 10-02-2020, 10:42 AM   #12
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From the pics, I would not say it is a deal breaker, but it certainly should make you enter the deal knowing what you are getting into. I think part of it depends on how long you anticipate keeping the bus. Big difference between 15 years or 30 years. Also depends on whether you are willing to drive south to purchase a rust free bus. For some of us living in the north, purchasing a bus in the south isn't going to happen.

I would definitely purchases a sandblaster. That will help immensely... especially in that area by the door jamb. I'd rip that seal off and any caulk and sandblast the rust away. Same thing on the front bumper... sandblast the rust off.

If you do have rust holes in your floor, it isn't that big of a deal to cut out and lay down new sheet metal patches. The frame rust would be the least of my concerns... something that could be tackled years down the road if wanted to tackle at all. You won't find a bus north of the mason dixon that doesn't have rust on the frame.

The sheet metal of a bus body is generally much thicker than the sheet metal on a normal vehicle. So, rust progresses a little slower than what it does on a car.
Good thought on sandblasting! Now that itís been mentioned twice, probably will end up getting a sand blaster. Looks like Harbor Freight has some, quite inexpensive. Loweís has one for <$250 - feels worth the investment.

We were originally looking to do something south, but the travel cost ends up being (possibly) prohibitive with plane tickets (or gas for the car) + lodging + days off work + boarding two dogs, etc. This bus is local, less than 2hrs from us, which is a big plus.
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Old 10-02-2020, 10:52 AM   #13
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I bought a sand blaster attachment for my powerwasher for $30. Worked good for me. No sand in the air but plenty to sweep up from driveway. Careful though, we accidentally took out a window when we got too close. Just keep your sand dry. I just poked attachment into the sand bag
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Old 10-02-2020, 01:02 PM   #14
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I bought a sand blaster attachment for my powerwasher for $30. Worked good for me. No sand in the air but plenty to sweep up from driveway. Careful though, we accidentally took out a window when we got too close. Just keep your sand dry. I just poked attachment into the sand bag
Ouch, yeah. I can see it being pretty easy to sand blast something that shouldnít be. Thanks for the warning! And the suggestion...I might have access to a power washer, going that route might save us a few bucks.
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