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Old 07-13-2022, 03:58 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jul 2022
Posts: 3
2003 Ford E450 Collins style... should I buy??

Hi Skoolie Nation!
I am new to bus life but have been researching and soaking up as much information as I can over this past year. I have been in search for a 5-6 window short bus with a handicap door in the rear and and emergency exit door in the back. I wanted a diesel engine because I knew I wanted the horsepower of it and it's better with mpg and I knew I would be traveling cross country multiple times.
I have the opportunity to buy a 2003 Ford E450 Collins style in MN with about 190K miles. I know the mileage is high and it does have a couple maintanence issues (oil sensor issues, not insulated, rust on stairs and in rear of vehicle, and based on pictures probably needs new tires). I was able to get him down to 10K vice his 14K asking price, but ultimately I come to Skoolie Nation to ask "Is this worth it"???
Please all advice and helpful opinions are welcomed
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Worldtraveler99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2022, 09:18 PM   #2
Bus Nut
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 994
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
Needs more Cowbell

There's not enough information in your description to give a good answer, IMO. But I won't let that stop me. :-')

Think of the bus's 'value' as two parts: first, the rig (chassis and mechanical) and then the conversion. If they are considered separately you may have a better chance coming up with your own assessment of the value.

Rig: the price seems high for the mileage and what you are getting. The big concern is always 'is the chassis and drive train reliable?' so any information you can glean from the seller about how much they've driven it, what kind of repairs or maintenance they've done would be helpful.

There are a lot of rigs coming onto the market now, and I've got to believe all sellers are feeling the downward pressure so it's getting better from a buyer's perspective. No offense to the seller if they are lurking, it's just the reality. I'm not suggesting you should get something for nothing, either.

Conversion: The plumbing and electrical look pretty basic. No problem with that, of course, but you may get tired of hauling water and/or that cassette. Hauling out and setting up a solar panel might be an annoying inconvenience.

Many buses have more sophisticated setups. Again, no problem with a basic setup, but between the mechanicals and a simple setup the math for this deal seems a little tight. Sellers usually know within a few hundred dollars what they've spent to kit out the interior. What does the seller say about their conversion 'investment'?

But now I'm going to get back to the rig. The rig is everything, man. This one has some unaddressed issues that may indicate a more general 'rode hard and put away wet' rig (not your seller, but perhaps the school district) and that has the potential for new and more unpleasant discoveries beyond what the seller is able to foresee in good faith.

Also, have you been able to physically inspect other rigs to get a real feel for what you like and need?

You have the fever, but you're taking your time-you'll do fine.
Rucker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2022, 09:55 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2022
Posts: 3
The listing said:

2003 Collins Grand Bantam 24’ mini school bus - Currently located in Minneapolis.
Runs great, well maintained

Outfitted for bus life with:
Queen bed that transforms into table for 4
Couch / twin bed
Kitchen sink with electric pump attached to 30 gallon water tank, 7 gallon holding tank
4 LED Lights
Butcher block countertop
Lots of cabinet and storage space
Rear door and side rear door
Duralast marine deepcycle battery 27DP-DL
Electric panel with master switch and solar charging
4 18 V 25 W solar panels
Alpcour portable toilet - 5.3 gallon holding tank

Vehicle features:
7.3 L Ford Power Stroke Turbo Diesel
191 K miles
Automatic transmission
AC and rear Carrier AC unit
Towing hitch
6 tires new in last 2 years / 10K miles
Comes with spare tire (for emergencies)
10 bus windows and swinging bus door
Backup camera

Other details:
Outside needs a paint and seal
Not insulated
Flooring coming up in places (minor)
Rust on stairs and under vehicle in rear (no issues with this but mentioning)
No rv hookup
Oil sensor broken, have had checked multiple times and oil tank is fine, just sensor

I have a carpenter friend who was planning to help me with the build but I was also intending on paying him. But some of the projects I immediately want to do to the build are insulate the floors, install a shower behind the driver’s seat, add cabinets overhead, transform the stationary bed into a diy Murphy bed layout, put 4x100W solar panels, 50 gallon water tank, diesel heater.

I know it’ll be a lot of projects but I feel like it has a solid foundation but I’m not sure if I should wait a little longer for a better deal. I was think the fact that I don’t have to tear out the seats and have a solid skoolie foundation for $10k it was good big am I selling myself short?
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Old 07-14-2022, 10:46 AM   #4
Bus Nut
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 994
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
Nothing in the extra details sounds alarming, in fact it sounds like the seller is doing their best to inform.

The bonus points for this rig are that you can put it to use while you plan and do the upgrades.

I think the only other thing I'd recommend is spend what is necessary to have a mechanic check out the engine and drive train, and weigh in on other big ticket items like rubber, brakes, chassis electrical issues.
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Old 07-15-2022, 01:26 AM   #5
New Member
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 1
If you pass on it send it my way please.
FIGJAM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-15-2022, 11:13 AM   #6
craigify's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: New Orleans, USA
Posts: 37
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: P30
Engine: 454ci Big Block Chevrolet
The part about currently in Minneapolis as opposed to living out its service life in Minneapolis is much more appealing.

I'm going to be in Minneapolis hopefully within a week or a little more. I know I'm basically an internet stranger, but I'd check it out with you and and provide my opinion. I'm not sure how much weight you should give my opinion, however, but I've got some experience.
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Old 07-24-2022, 11:34 AM   #7
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 18
Did you buy this yet? Looks awesome.
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Old 08-06-2022, 06:46 PM   #8
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Join Date: Jul 2022
Posts: 3
Originally Posted by Mcangelo4 View Post
Did you buy this yet? Looks awesome.
I actually didn’t. I found a e450 5 window with the same engine, less miles, no mechanical issues, and most importantly no rust for cheaper.

The owner of this 6 window moved the bus to DC. Here’s the fb Marketplace link, it’s still available.
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