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Old 11-20-2019, 07:57 PM   #21
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What about rust? With snow and rain, wouldn’t Colorado kinda match Kansas as far as the rust situation goes?
The areas that get more snow equip their buses for it, snow tires and drop down snow chains. Salt is the demon that causes rust. Salt is not used on the roads in winter outside the upper right corner of the country. Salt is no advantage in deep snow, so the areas that get more snow don't see the salt that rusts them apart.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:15 PM   #22
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When going the auction route, how do you know what is a good bus or not?
Can buy like three or four from auction for the price of one dealer/CL/FB bus.
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:08 AM   #23
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Kansas is pretty salty too.
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:28 AM   #24
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Can buy like three or four from auction for the price of one dealer/CL/FB bus.
I bought my bus on Marketplace, kind of the exception here but I paid $4K for one of the most desirable drivetrains. They originally had it listed at $7K but ended up negotiating.

Part of the reason was a damaged rear cap that probably would have disqualified future use as a commercial bus but for skoolie purposes it doesn't matter.
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:41 AM   #25
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I bought my bus on Marketplace, kind of the exception here but I paid $4K for one of the most desirable drivetrains. They originally had it listed at $7K but ended up negotiating.

Part of the reason was a damaged rear cap that probably would have disqualified future use as a commercial bus but for skoolie purposes it doesn't matter.
I'm not saying deals can't be had.
But the best deals are often the auction listings with poor descriptions and pics.
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Old 11-21-2019, 10:53 AM   #26
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What about rust? With snow and rain, wouldn’t Colorado kinda match Kansas as far as the rust situation goes?
(Having lived in CO for the last 20 years until my recent move to OH...)
Outside of Denver, CO doesn't use any salt BECAUSE the ground water resource is too important to contaminate with salt run-off.

In the rural areas (I used to live in Divide, CO) CDOT uses a mix of sand/gravel. This is why car windshields have an average life of 6 months...

Even though there's a lot of snow -- the humidity is still on average way lower than Kansas -- humidity with salt residue is what will eat metal fast.

I would imagine the rural area buses would have better xmsn (o/d and lockup converters) to reduce fuel budget. And hwy miles are easier than city miles as a general rule...

You'll find surface rust for sure but not the deep rot of the urban NE & Great Lakes area...

Unless you're doing a roof raise regardless -- be sure and get a bus with a 6'6" center isle. It wasn't until I came to this forum that I learned so many buses only have 6' ceilings!
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Old 11-21-2019, 11:54 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Kitty View Post
When going the auction route, how do you know what is a good bus or not?
Start by looking in areas that don't use salt. Then I find schools decommisioning buses due to age. If buying straight from the school system on GovDeals.com, you can usually be assured they were well maintained and you can talk to the maintenance manager at the school, they will most often be very straigh forward with you and have all the repairs documented. There's still a chance of buying a lemon. The school is not like a private person trying to make a buck. They just want to get rid of them and the manager has no financial interest, so they won't shade things from you. Other than that your only other option is to budget money to travel to inspect your potential purchase. I bet Musicgenius wishes he had.
I just purchased 1 of 5 2005 Thomas C7 40'er. The first 4 sold for $2050, I got mine for $1500.
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Old 11-22-2019, 05:12 AM   #28
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Macallister transportation in Indianapolis, IN is the worst. I had a terrible experience there. Told the salesman that I only had the morning on a Monday to buy a bus and drive it home. They don't have weekend hours, so I went up on Sunday (3 hour trip for me) and looked at their buses. I picked the only bus on the lot that didn't run (so they said). In fairness it was the cheapest on the lot, but to balance that, I had specifically asked the salesman about that bus the week before and he didn't tell me it had problems.

So I spent the night in a hotel and get there Monday morning and the salesman isn't even there, after I told him I needed to buy a bus really quick that morning, as I had to be back for work later that day. There was another sales lady there that told me she might be able to help me. I told her the bus I wanted and she told me that it didn't run. Then asked me if that was something I needed. "for it to run?" I had looked at other buses, but after that fiasco I didn't want anything to do with them. I left and glad I did. They were way overpriced and everything was rusty. Then when I texted the salesman and told him what happened, he never texted back. So I told my story on the forums, and again instead of calling me, he attacked me on the forums. Bad bad place.
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Old 11-22-2019, 07:16 AM   #29
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Macallister transportation in Indianapolis, IN is the worst. I had a terrible experience there. Told the salesman that I only had the morning on a Monday to buy a bus and drive it home. They don't have weekend hours, so I went up on Sunday (3 hour trip for me) and looked at their buses. I picked the only bus on the lot that didn't run (so they said). In fairness it was the cheapest on the lot, but to balance that, I had specifically asked the salesman about that bus the week before and he didn't tell me it had problems.

So I spent the night in a hotel and get there Monday morning and the salesman isn't even there, after I told him I needed to buy a bus really quick that morning, as I had to be back for work later that day. There was another sales lady there that told me she might be able to help me. I told her the bus I wanted and she told me that it didn't run. Then asked me if that was something I needed. "for it to run?" I had looked at other buses, but after that fiasco I didn't want anything to do with them. I left and glad I did. They were way overpriced and everything was rusty. Then when I texted the salesman and told him what happened, he never texted back. So I told my story on the forums, and again instead of calling me, he attacked me on the forums. Bad bad place.
-They are not overpriced, in fact they are willing to negotiate.

-Macallister is the only Bluebird dealer for the entire state of Indiana so they are EXTREMELY busy with new bus orders/deliveries. The used department is only a very small part of their business so you need to have some patience with them.

-can't argue with the rust, that was the ultimate reason why I ended up getting mine elsewhere. I would buy from them in the future if they did have a bus I wanted, however.
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Old 11-23-2019, 01:39 AM   #30
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-The used department is only a very small part of their business so you need to have some patience with them.
Well they treated me like I was only a small part of their customer base, so wasn't worth dealing with. Everyone has their own opinion, but I will never deal with them again.
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Old 11-23-2019, 03:48 AM   #31
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Well they treated me like I was only a small part of their customer base, so wasn't worth dealing with. Everyone has their own opinion, but I will never deal with them again.
That's a dealer for ya.
I HATE dealers.
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Old 11-23-2019, 06:18 PM   #32
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I can post more info when my boyfriend is off work he has the business card.
But these guys are awesome.
They are in Oregon, but they go all over for buses.

They live in a skoolie on site!
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Old 12-18-2019, 08:34 AM   #33
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I've had several experiences with visiting dealers and auction houses...

MacAllister Transportation - where I bought my old bus. Had a great experience, in contrast to the butthurt poster above me. Very fair prices.

Kerlin Bus Sales - smaller selection but I have heard very good stories about their customer service.

Midwest Transit - visited their branches in Indianapolis (Whitestown) and Kankakee. Hope you like CEs! Prices seemed to be a little higher than normal, but I understand that they are a chain and sell a LOT of buses.

Myers Equipment - probably good for parts, but there are so many crusty northern Ohio and PA buses there that I'm not sure I would buy a whole bus from them.

Mike & B Sales - amazing selection, but you do get what you pay for. Nice to be able to browse buses from different states to compare and contrast.

Cardinal Bus Sales - great selection from all over Ohio. Prices are somewhat high, but justifiable since many of their sales are directly to school districts. Iffy warranties from what I've heard.

422 Sales - your source for totally worn-out PA buses, at least that's all there seems to be nowadays. Prices are fairly low despite lots of exporters in attendance, but most of the buses there have issues of some sort or are just plain worn out.

Ritchie Bros. - they only have buses on occasion, but I had a great experience there. Almost ended up with a couple of buses for WAY below market price.

I highly discourage anyone from buying from BGA. They are expert flippers - typically their buses come directly from auctions or from Cardinal in Ohio. I don't know how they are still in business.

I don't believe anyone has mentioned this yet: 422 Sales has a year's worth of past auctions archived, with prices included. Post-Sale List | Lists | 422 Sales
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Old 12-18-2019, 10:08 AM   #34
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I've had several experiences with visiting dealers and auction houses...

MacAllister Transportation - where I bought my old bus. Had a great experience, in contrast to the butthurt poster above me. Very fair prices.

Kerlin Bus Sales - smaller selection but I have heard very good stories about their customer service.

Midwest Transit - visited their branches in Indianapolis (Whitestown) and Kankakee. Hope you like CEs! Prices seemed to be a little higher than normal, but I understand that they are a chain and sell a LOT of buses.

Myers Equipment - probably good for parts, but there are so many crusty northern Ohio and PA buses there that I'm not sure I would buy a whole bus from them.

Mike & B Sales - amazing selection, but you do get what you pay for. Nice to be able to browse buses from different states to compare and contrast.

Cardinal Bus Sales - great selection from all over Ohio. Prices are somewhat high, but justifiable since many of their sales are directly to school districts. Iffy warranties from what I've heard.

422 Sales - your source for totally worn-out PA buses, at least that's all there seems to be nowadays. Prices are fairly low despite lots of exporters in attendance, but most of the buses there have issues of some sort or are just plain worn out.

Ritchie Bros. - they only have buses on occasion, but I had a great experience there. Almost ended up with a couple of buses for WAY below market price.

I highly discourage anyone from buying from BGA. They are expert flippers - typically their buses come directly from auctions or from Cardinal in Ohio. I don't know how they are still in business.

I don't believe anyone has mentioned this yet: 422 Sales has a year's worth of past auctions archived, with prices included. Post-Sale List | Lists | 422 Sales
Illinois school bus operators LOOOOVE International CE's!!! I'm almost positive that they were 90% of bus sales in the state for the last 10 years. They were buying hundreds of Maxxforce buses when Wisconsin operators wouldn't touch them with a 100 ft pole.

422 Sales gets some stuff from Wisconsin too. A private school in Milwaukee just auctioned off a bunch of 2nd gen Visions with low headroom, hydraulic brakes and Cummins 6.7. They were cheap ($1500 average selling price) but nothing worth sharing on here.

To me there's 2 different categories of dealers. There's the ones like Macalister and Kerlin that are new bus dealers and get flooded with dozens of trade ins every year. They generally sell cheap, are willing to negotiate but won't give you too much of their time since most of their focus is on new sales.

Then you get flippers like BGA and Rocky Mountain Bus Sales which are NOT OEM dealers. Their focus is on used buses and the prices reflect it. They bid on the exact same buses you can get at GD and Public Surplus so I fail to see the point of paying them a premium for something you can get yourself.

Dunno why BGA is still a thing. I can't figure out how or why their strategy of bringing in Rust Belt buses to Florida for resale even works for them. Anyone with half a modicum of awareness can get a better deal 100% of the time.
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Old 12-18-2019, 10:18 AM   #35
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People are very much trained to be consumers and part if that is the desire to buy things in a retail type of setting. It throws people off when cutting out the middleman.
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Old 12-18-2019, 10:49 AM   #36
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What about rust? With snow and rain, wouldn’t Colorado kinda match Kansas as far as the rust situation goes?
I don't know if or where in Colorado they "salt" the roads when it snows. I am guessing that they don't as we don't see much rust on buses coming out of there. That is how it is where I live. They sand when it snows. No chemicals.

Tell me about rust in Kansas? I may be moving there at some point. I have been to the Wichita area three times in the last year and the weather has been very mild. I was there a couple of weeks ago and it was mostly t-shirt weather. It was the same November of 2018.

I wouldn't have thought that Kansas would be a problem area for rust....

A comment on the post stating that transportation contractors run their buses into the ground before retiring them. I have purchased from First Students and would not hesitate to buy another. I spent some time hanging out in their Seattle facility looking over buses, talking to drivers and the service guys. Nice folks.
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Old 12-18-2019, 11:04 AM   #37
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I don't know if or where in Colorado they "salt" the roads when it snows. I am guessing that they don't as we don't see much rust on buses coming out of there. That is how it is where I live. They sand when it snows. No chemicals.

Tell me about rust in Kansas? I may be moving there at some point. I have been to the Wichita area three times in the last year and the weather has been very mild. I was there a couple of weeks ago and it was mostly t-shirt weather. It was the same November of 2018.

I wouldn't have thought that Kansas would be a problem area for rust....

A comment on the post stating that transportation contractors run their buses into the ground before retiring them. I have purchased from First Students and would not hesitate to buy another. I spent some time hanging out in their Seattle facility looking over buses, talking to drivers and the service guys. Nice folks.
First Student quality varies a LOT between locations and service regions. They're a national corporation with regional managers etc that all do things differently. In Wisconsin some of the larger terminals in the bigger cities will run nice equipment that gets rotated fairly often. Smaller rural terminals will use some really beat down rusty junk. Around here they ordered them bare bones cheap as possible (for awhile they were ordering buses with only 1 driver fan). At a golf tournament once I spotted a First Student 2003 TC2000 with Dayton wheels (had no idea you could still order Daytons in 2003!!! ) And yes, their driver showed me the data plate in the bus to verify the year.

They've really disapeared off the map in Wisconsin though. 15 years ago they had locations all over the state. Now they're down to 1 or 2 in the largest cities.
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Old 12-18-2019, 12:04 PM   #38
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First Student quality varies a LOT between locations and service regions. They're a national corporation with regional managers etc that all do things differently. In Wisconsin some of the larger terminals in the bigger cities will run nice equipment that gets rotated fairly often. Smaller rural terminals will use some really beat down rusty junk. Around here they ordered them bare bones cheap as possible (for awhile they were ordering buses with only 1 driver fan). At a golf tournament once I spotted a First Student 2003 TC2000 with Dayton wheels (had no idea you could still order Daytons in 2003!!! ) And yes, their driver showed me the data plate in the bus to verify the year.

They've really disapeared off the map in Wisconsin though. 15 years ago they had locations all over the state. Now they're down to 1 or 2 in the largest cities.
The Seattle crew was excellent to deal with. The bus ran and drove great. They couldn't let me test drive it due to insurance issues. The service manager drove me around and went through the same things that I would have if I were driving. That is the first bus I have bought that had good "young" tires. They serviced it before I picked it up.

I need to buy more buses like that. I hadn't planned on flipping it but things just worked out that way. I stripped the interior and then used it as a moving truck when I moved back to the East side. Then sold it and put a nice bit of coin in my pocket.
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Old 12-18-2019, 12:21 PM   #39
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Start by looking in areas that don't use salt. Then I find schools decommisioning buses due to age. If buying straight from the school system on GovDeals.com, you can usually be assured they were well maintained and you can talk to the maintenance manager at the school, they will most often be very straigh forward with you and have all the repairs documented. There's still a chance of buying a lemon. The school is not like a private person trying to make a buck. They just want to get rid of them and the manager has no financial interest, so they won't shade things from you. Other than that your only other option is to budget money to travel to inspect your potential purchase. I bet Musicgenius wishes he had.
I just purchased 1 of 5 2005 Thomas C7 40'er. The first 4 sold for $2050, I got mine for $1500.
That has pretty much been my experience. The bus barn folks have been very friendly and accommodating.

When I worked for the county I sent vehicles and equipment to auction. I have been on the seller side of the equation. State law (varies by state) here dictates that we could sell or donate to other government agencies or sell to the public in an auction. We never got enough for the stuff we sent to auction to be significant. It was a way to rid ourselves of stuff we no longer needed. We didn't have a "profit motive" so it made sense to be completely honest in the representation of the condition of the items we sent to auction.

As a buyer at the government auctions I have found that to be the case with most government sellers.

You are still taking a gamble when you buy a bus sight unseen. The majority of the auction purchases made by members here have been worthwhile. Not all though. If you want the best value buy from auction. If you want to pay for the warm fuzzies then buy from a private party or dealer that will let you test drive it and have a mechanic check it out.
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Old 12-25-2019, 05:21 PM   #40
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At a golf tournament once I spotted a First Student 2003 TC2000 with Dayton wheels (had no idea you could still order Daytons in 2003!!! )
There is a district just outside of Louisville, KY in Indiana that operates a few 2008 Thomas EFs with Daytons. Pretty sure that's the last year they were available.

First Student is bad, but the Illinois Central School Bus units I've seen from around the Chicago area are even worse. The ICSB units that I saw in a recent demolition derby were 2011 models and were as rusted out as you might imagine.
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