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Old 10-31-2020, 02:24 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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So I'm curious if these are worth pursuing.

Since my only "conversion" and "mechanical" experience is with E450 cutaways, I'm gonna need a little help with this one because I don't know what I'm looking at.

So I've been "joking" with my boss now and then that we need to get a bigger party bus. We currently have a 20 and a 25 passenger cutaway, and sometimes with the parties we drive they can be sardine cans. Every once in a while I look around to see what's out there, and always end up disappointed. My original thought was a 65 passenger dognose, because they can maneuver well around town, not a huge amount of tail swing (we sometimes have to go through some tight spaces), and plenty of space to work with. Unfortunately I have never been able to find anything "cheap" in that size that's got factory air, air ride, and doesn't have a buttload of miles for being a route bus. All I see are real shorties and full length 74+ passenger, nothing in between.

I love RE transits and that would be my ideal base, but since the short versions are not real common (from what I've found anyway) and a full size is unfeasible due to the length/turning radius I sort of ruled them out.

However I came across this tonight..
https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...33&acctid=7851

One is said to be running (158k), and the other is said to run but requires a tow due to an air leak. So can anyone possibly ID the powertrains from the pictures/VINs and let me know if they are something worth looking at? If they're a good starting point or "don't bother"? The "tow outta here" one is listed at 289k - and the passenger compartment is full of a bunch of spare parts. These would only see maybe a couple hundred miles a week (we mainly only operate on Friday/Saturday), so if its a 500k powertrain then I wouldn't have a lot of concern about getting there soon even on the older one.

It's about 400 miles away from me, and I could fly/cab to the lot from our local airport. Driving the one back wouldn't be a problem, but the other one becomes the quandary. The boss has a semi and flatbed but its not a lowboy, so that's out. Does anyone have a ballpark of what the tow might cost? I considered making a second flight and trying to find and fix the leak, but I'm not exactly a small guy and don't think I'd be able to do any work with it on the ground looking how low the body sits, unless someone knows any tricks.

They might also become my problem at some point, because pre-covid he had offered to sell me the business and I was starting to put some money together, but my savings took a knockout blow because my main job and my side hustles (including this) were all sidelined during the shutdown and still have not completely recovered. So I'm trying to look ahead on that as well if that plan gets back on track.

Thanks for any guidance you can offer!

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Old 10-31-2020, 08:47 AM   #2
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Looks like both of 'em would make for a good party wagon. The '07 shows by VIN as having the Cummins 6.7 (not the advertised 5.9), but the other does show having the 5.9 Cummins. I'm betting the air leak problem shouldn't be a major fix, likely it isn't building up air pressure enough to move. As to whether they will allow any repairs in order to move the 2nd bus, I am not sure (most places won't) but never hurts to ask. Also, if Boss Man has a semi, a lowbow/Landoll can be rented I'm sure.



Common "air pressure not building" reasons - air compressor governor, unloader valve, or air dryer leaking. Really hard to determine without seeing it in person.
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Old 10-31-2020, 12:29 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taz420 View Post
Since my only "conversion" and "mechanical" experience is with E450 cutaways, I'm gonna need a little help with this one because I don't know what I'm looking at.

So I've been "joking" with my boss now and then that we need to get a bigger party bus. We currently have a 20 and a 25 passenger cutaway, and sometimes with the parties we drive they can be sardine cans. Every once in a while I look around to see what's out there, and always end up disappointed. My original thought was a 65 passenger dognose, because they can maneuver well around town, not a huge amount of tail swing (we sometimes have to go through some tight spaces), and plenty of space to work with. Unfortunately I have never been able to find anything "cheap" in that size that's got factory air, air ride, and doesn't have a buttload of miles for being a route bus. All I see are real shorties and full length 74+ passenger, nothing in between.

I love RE transits and that would be my ideal base, but since the short versions are not real common (from what I've found anyway) and a full size is unfeasible due to the length/turning radius I sort of ruled them out.

However I came across this tonight..
https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...33&acctid=7851

One is said to be running (158k), and the other is said to run but requires a tow due to an air leak. So can anyone possibly ID the powertrains from the pictures/VINs and let me know if they are something worth looking at? If they're a good starting point or "don't bother"? The "tow outta here" one is listed at 289k - and the passenger compartment is full of a bunch of spare parts. These would only see maybe a couple hundred miles a week (we mainly only operate on Friday/Saturday), so if its a 500k powertrain then I wouldn't have a lot of concern about getting there soon even on the older one.

It's about 400 miles away from me, and I could fly/cab to the lot from our local airport. Driving the one back wouldn't be a problem, but the other one becomes the quandary. The boss has a semi and flatbed but its not a lowboy, so that's out. Does anyone have a ballpark of what the tow might cost? I considered making a second flight and trying to find and fix the leak, but I'm not exactly a small guy and don't think I'd be able to do any work with it on the ground looking how low the body sits, unless someone knows any tricks.

They might also become my problem at some point, because pre-covid he had offered to sell me the business and I was starting to put some money together, but my savings took a knockout blow because my main job and my side hustles (including this) were all sidelined during the shutdown and still have not completely recovered. So I'm trying to look ahead on that as well if that plan gets back on track.

Thanks for any guidance you can offer!
Note in the attachments that the 2003 was taken from service in 2013, that's a long time for a bus to sit if it was only to be a minor repair to the air system. Maybe other larger concerns with that high mileage. Caution exercised here!
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Old 10-31-2020, 02:46 PM   #4
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If you haven’t driven an RE transit, do so before writing them off. Yes they have larger radius than a conventional shorty however they turn sharper than you think .. and you can hang the front end over a curb without hitting it if need be to start a turn .

The side exits are nice from a safety standpoint and many are high headroom .. the bench seat across the back seems to be a favorite of a lot of party goers for pics. Esp if you put up a novelty like a stripper pole in back..
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Old 10-31-2020, 04:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscar1 View Post
Note in the attachments that the 2003 was taken from service in 2013, that's a long time for a bus to sit if it was only to be a minor repair to the air system. Maybe other larger concerns with that high mileage. Caution exercised here!
Yeah I did notice that. The 2007 is what I'm interested in, so if absolutely nothing else and the 03 isn't worth fixing it can be stripped for parts. If the auction doesn't go too high that may still be worth it, since I assume they share a lot of the same parts. I also read that comment as it was taken out of fleet service in 2013, therefore has not seen documented maintenance since then, not that it hasn't been drivable since 2013.

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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
If you haven’t driven an RE transit, do so before writing them off. Yes they have larger radius than a conventional shorty however they turn sharper than you think .. and you can hang the front end over a curb without hitting it if need be to start a turn .

The side exits are nice from a safety standpoint and many are high headroom .. the bench seat across the back seems to be a favorite of a lot of party goers for pics. Esp if you put up a novelty like a stripper pole in back..
Oh I am absolutely not writing RE transits off at all. I love them. I am an actual school bus driver for the local district, and I love doing the out of town trips because aside from the Freightliner coach, all of our activity buses are RE's and they're awesome to drive. That's what got me thinking of using a transit for our next party bus. But the street situation in this town is pretty convoluted (as in what the **** were they thinking?), like people are allowed to park on both sides of two way streets that are barely 20 feet wide, they're allowed to park right up to corners (including in front of stop signs) and in front of T intersections, its ridiculous. There's just no way a 40ft transit would work because I can think of places where the tailswing would bitchslap a parked car. But I think a 30ft or so like these would work because I have no problem with my route bus (65 passenger dognose) in those areas.

And yeah you basically nailed my vision lol, I love that raised section in that back over the engine rather than the "box" that our transits have. I'm envisioning seats in a horseshoe around a pole in the middle kind of like a "VIP section" lol.
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Old 10-31-2020, 05:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taz420 View Post
Yeah I did notice that. The 2007 is what I'm interested in, so if absolutely nothing else and the 03 isn't worth fixing it can be stripped for parts. If the auction doesn't go too high that may still be worth it, since I assume they share a lot of the same parts. I also read that comment as it was taken out of fleet service in 2013, therefore has not seen documented maintenance since then, not that it hasn't been drivable since 2013.



Oh I am absolutely not writing RE transits off at all. I love them. I am an actual school bus driver for the local district, and I love doing the out of town trips because aside from the Freightliner coach, all of our activity buses are RE's and they're awesome to drive. That's what got me thinking of using a transit for our next party bus. But the street situation in this town is pretty convoluted (as in what the **** were they thinking?), like people are allowed to park on both sides of two way streets that are barely 20 feet wide, they're allowed to park right up to corners (including in front of stop signs) and in front of T intersections, its ridiculous. There's just no way a 40ft transit would work because I can think of places where the tailswing would bitchslap a parked car. But I think a 30ft or so like these would work because I have no problem with my route bus (65 passenger dognose) in those areas.

And yeah you basically nailed my vision lol, I love that raised section in that back over the engine rather than the "box" that our transits have. I'm envisioning seats in a horseshoe around a pole in the middle kind of like a "VIP section" lol.

I help friends set up their party busses



you need one of those shorty FE transits.. thomas and bluebird both made them.. Extremely short wheelbase and about 8 windows long.. they turn fantastic and being you still get '8 windows' of interior you can still get a nice setup inside..



my 6 window conventional IH 3800 out turns anything ive driven.. OK i think my smart car turned sharper but neither my Dodge ram crew cab nor my current Jeep gladiator crew cab can turn as sharp as that bus.. RedByrd is my Go to when friends and I go out on the town as some of them live in historic neighborhoods like you speak of where you probably have 2 inches on either side of your mirrors at times!
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Old 10-31-2020, 05:32 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
Looks like both of 'em would make for a good party wagon. The '07 shows by VIN as having the Cummins 6.7 (not the advertised 5.9), but the other does show having the 5.9 Cummins. I'm betting the air leak problem shouldn't be a major fix, likely it isn't building up air pressure enough to move. As to whether they will allow any repairs in order to move the 2nd bus, I am not sure (most places won't) but never hurts to ask. Also, if Boss Man has a semi, a lowbow/Landoll can be rented I'm sure.



Common "air pressure not building" reasons - air compressor governor, unloader valve, or air dryer leaking. Really hard to determine without seeing it in person.
Where are you able to look up the specs by VIN? That could prove to be helpful. And I'm just kind of brainstorming here trying to figure out whether there is an economical way to get it home in case it turns out to be something I can't use and just pick parts off. I have no clue about trucking but if renting a Landoll plus 800 miles worth of diesel (I have no idea what kind of mileage his rig gets) plus at least a day away from his other ventures isnt significantly less than just having someone else tow it, might as well just pay someone else. But if its $3000 to get the the non working one home it may make it not worth it to have the working one.
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Old 10-31-2020, 05:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
I help friends set up their party busses



you need one of those shorty FE transits.. thomas and bluebird both made them.. Extremely short wheelbase and about 8 windows long.. they turn fantastic and being you still get '8 windows' of interior you can still get a nice setup inside..



my 6 window conventional IH 3800 out turns anything ive driven.. OK i think my smart car turned sharper but neither my Dodge ram crew cab nor my current Jeep gladiator crew cab can turn as sharp as that bus.. RedByrd is my Go to when friends and I go out on the town as some of them live in historic neighborhoods like you speak of where you probably have 2 inches on either side of your mirrors at times!
Yeah I have seen the short RE's (someone just bumped a thread about a TC1000 in fact) but never seen a short FE transit. I'll have to do more homework lol.

And if I do ever get this rolling, I'll probably want to pick your brain for suggestions. Got pics anywhere of party buses youve worked on?
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Old 10-31-2020, 07:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taz420 View Post
Where are you able to look up the specs by VIN? That could prove to be helpful. And I'm just kind of brainstorming here trying to figure out whether there is an economical way to get it home in case it turns out to be something I can't use and just pick parts off. I have no clue about trucking but if renting a Landoll plus 800 miles worth of diesel (I have no idea what kind of mileage his rig gets) plus at least a day away from his other ventures isnt significantly less than just having someone else tow it, might as well just pay someone else. But if its $3000 to get the the non working one home it may make it not worth it to have the working one.

https://www.gates.com/us/en/ymm/search/landing/vin.html
This is just one of several online sources, my usual Go-To. Every once in a while there will be a VIN it doesn't recognize - Chance trolley buses is an example.
Being a driver by trade, I would expect a modern rig to get between 6-8 MPG on average. 100+ gallons fuel for the round trip, at whatever the local price is ....

Typical wrecker charges for a full size bus, I would expect $250-500 to hook up + $5 per loaded mile (you may be able to negotiate this lower, never hurts to try).
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Old 10-31-2020, 11:38 PM   #10
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My thoughts on this bus deal would be to flat tow the bad one with the good one.
However, if the airbags don't allow it to roll off the lot, that is a problem.
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Old 11-01-2020, 11:08 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
https://www.gates.com/us/en/ymm/search/landing/vin.html
This is just one of several online sources, my usual Go-To. Every once in a while there will be a VIN it doesn't recognize - Chance trolley buses is an example.
Being a driver by trade, I would expect a modern rig to get between 6-8 MPG on average. 100+ gallons fuel for the round trip, at whatever the local price is ....

Typical wrecker charges for a full size bus, I would expect $250-500 to hook up + $5 per loaded mile (you may be able to negotiate this lower, never hurts to try).
Thanks for the info!

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My thoughts on this bus deal would be to flat tow the bad one with the good one.
However, if the airbags don't allow it to roll off the lot, that is a problem.
There's two things that concern me with that.. This trip would be from west of Denver to Kansas. Lots of steep grades in between, and I dont know that I'd trust pulling a freewheeling non-braked 25,000lb trailer. I also only have a Class B so my trailer limit is 10,000lbs.
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Old 11-01-2020, 11:54 AM   #12
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To auction a working and non working bus together must be designed for a scrapper or professional company. Price should stay close to scrap price.
If you are seriously interested I would go there two days in advance to check it out. See if the second is running with a jump... Talk with the maintenance crew and see how serious it is. If not repairable outside the lot then see if you can sell the unit if to a scrapper and make a deal for some of the parts.

Good luck..we have very..very similar bus made by freightliner..thomas. with a mercedes engine. Works good for us.

Good luck. Johan
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Old 11-01-2020, 12:08 PM   #13
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If I was in the market I sure would do it, provided the price was right and at least one is in good running condition.
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Old 11-01-2020, 11:55 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by joeblack5 View Post
To auction a working and non working bus together must be designed for a scrapper or professional company. Price should stay close to scrap price.
If you are seriously interested I would go there two days in advance to check it out. See if the second is running with a jump... Talk with the maintenance crew and see how serious it is. If not repairable outside the lot then see if you can sell the unit if to a scrapper and make a deal for some of the parts.

Good luck..we have very..very similar bus made by freightliner..thomas. with a mercedes engine. Works good for us.

Good luck. Johan
Yeah thats sort of what I was thinking too, "if you want to take the good one, you gotta get rid of this one for us".

I'm getting a little more confident in these doing a little more research. I found that I could look them up on the Blue Bird site, and they were both delivered to the Black Hawk Transit Authority, which is who is selling them so they have been fleet maintained. Unfortunately a lot of the info for those two VINs is blank so it doesn't really tell me anything I hoped to learn. I also have come to understand from more poking around here that they both would have MD3060 transmissions? That's the only kind that use the digital control, right? And those are the ones to have?

I'm going to try to contact someone over there directly tomorrow, hopefully they'll be able to fill in some blanks. Mainly if the air leak in the 03 is so bad that the spring brakes won't release, or if it's just leaking too bad to drive safely. As much as I'd love to, unfortunately I can't just go over there on a whim to inspect it, it's a $400 round trip flight with the commuter special (plus 120 miles worth of cab rides from Denver to Blackhawk and back) or 12+ hour round trip drive. Unless there's someone on here that's in the area that would be willing to go look?
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Old 11-02-2020, 06:10 AM   #15
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if its just going to scrap you can cage the brakes so it is rollable enough to go on a tow rig.



if the only thing wrong with the bus is a bad brake chamber, then you look into getting a mobile service rig to come out and change it.. while mobile service rigs cost more than driving into a diesel shop its generally much less than a tow and then service at a shop.. brake chambers are typically in the wheelhouse of most service rigs and from what ive found the ones used on school busses from the 90s up are pretty standard in stock items at most supply houses
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:35 AM   #16
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if its just going to scrap you can cage the brakes so it is rollable enough to go on a tow rig.



if the only thing wrong with the bus is a bad brake chamber, then you look into getting a mobile service rig to come out and change it.. while mobile service rigs cost more than driving into a diesel shop its generally much less than a tow and then service at a shop.. brake chambers are typically in the wheelhouse of most service rigs and from what ive found the ones used on school busses from the 90s up are pretty standard in stock items at most supply houses
Good idea!
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Old 11-02-2020, 05:32 PM   #17
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If you go to the questions and read them you will see that it's a front leveling valve, no big deal to change, you can use hand tools but you will probably have to get it off the property, no problem if you think about ways to do that, tow it to a shop and have them throw a valve on it.
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Old 11-04-2020, 04:04 PM   #18
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https://youtu.be/90uuZXSP0WQ
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Old 11-11-2020, 04:09 PM   #19
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Well the boss shot me down on this (I can't say I totally blame him considering Covid has taken a big bite out of business) but now going back to see more questions that were posted before the end im kind of annoyed lol. If I had seen them I'd have pressed him harder. The 03 had a new engine 90k miles ago and the 07 had injector service 30k ago.. Those would've been a great investment. Oh well.
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