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Old 08-29-2018, 03:32 PM   #1
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Long Distance Auction Inspections

How does one go about inspecting a bus at an auction where you can't arrange inspection due to 1500 miles away?

Obviously, there are risks, and faith in the seller pre-close communications, descriptions, documentation, etc.

Basically - I'd like to hear about people who have purchased at auction before without inspecting it - just based on the communication with the seller/auction house.

Thanks...
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Old 08-29-2018, 03:46 PM   #2
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From what I have seen MOST of the government auction sellers are pretty honest and, if they know, they will give you an honest assessment of the condition.

Sometimes they don't know.

Folks here have had fairly good luck with auction purchases. It is always a bit of a gamble.

One member here recently flew a significant distance only to find the bus was not as described. He got a refund on the auction but was out all of his travel expenses and time. Given that he bought his return plane ticket at the last minute, I expect that his travel expenses were significant.

Talk to the seller, try and get service records and post details here for feedback from members. Then decide if you want to take the gamble or buy from a private seller/dealer.

I bought my bus at auction and would do it again. However, the is the benefit of a test drive and mechanics inspection if you pay the extra $$ to buy from a dealer or private party.

Good luck!
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Old 08-29-2018, 03:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pizote View Post
How does one go about inspecting a bus at an auction where you can't arrange inspection due to 1500 miles away?

Obviously, there are risks, and faith in the seller pre-close communications, descriptions, documentation, etc.

Basically - I'd like to hear about people who have purchased at auction before without inspecting it - just based on the communication with the seller/auction house.

Thanks...
I've bought all mine online at auctions. No inspections.
The way I look at it I can buy three or more of them this way for what one costs on CL or at a dealer.
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Old 08-29-2018, 03:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Talk to the seller, try and get service records and post details here for feedback from members. Then decide if you want to take the gamble or buy from a private seller/dealer.

Good luck!
Thank you - I have a call into the seller, but they are back east (midwest) and have gone home for the day. Hopefully I will be able to get the maintenance records or at least an assessment from him. The amount of communication he has put into the auction lends me to believe that he will be forthcoming and is familiar with the bus.
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Old 08-29-2018, 04:53 PM   #5
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You either fly or drive yourself or someone else to go look at it. There are services you can hire to go look at them for you. They don't go into depth on running condition or how the AC s work, etc.
Craigs list is not a bad place to look. I bought mine off CL and paid the seller only $700 more than he paid at auction 6 months before. I did buy it sight unseen and went to Butte Montana for it. It was everything I expected and more. Better bus than the deal that fell through in OKC. , and the Bluebird I bought for $900.

https://wegolook.com/ebay-inspection...D=223118327072
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Old 08-29-2018, 05:05 PM   #6
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I called Mobile Diesel Service

The bus I bid on was almost 600 miles away and the School selling it said it would run but wasn't starting at the time of the auction. I called a couple Mobile Service companies on the off chance someone in San Antonio would have time to help me. I got a hold of an owner of a small shop and for $195.00 he inspected it, charged up the batteries, checked the fluids, and then made sure it would start before I arrived on the plane. He made two service calls on the thing and I had no trouble driving the bus off the lot and back home.



For me it was money well spent and worth a try..?
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Old 08-29-2018, 05:16 PM   #7
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inspections.... I will

I would go do inspection if it is close enough

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Old 08-29-2018, 05:19 PM   #8
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I would go do inspection if it is close enough

william topeka kansas
It's in OH, I'm in CA.
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Old 08-29-2018, 08:33 PM   #9
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It's in OH, I'm in CA.
Why look so far away?
CA and the west coast have far superior buses to OH or anywhere over on this side of the country.
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Old 08-29-2018, 10:10 PM   #10
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Why look so far away?
CA and the west coast have far superior buses to OH or anywhere over on this side of the country.
If anyone has links to auctions in California please send them my way. I have yet to find them.
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Old 08-29-2018, 10:27 PM   #11
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If anyone has links to auctions in California please send them my way. I have yet to find them.
All the major auction sites listed on this forum sell from all over the country. You just need to sift through the listings for ones in Ca.
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Old 09-06-2018, 07:01 AM   #12
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My experience in the classic car business when it comes to buyer's making long distance sight unseen purchases is no different with a Skoolie.

Let's face facts.

Most buyer's are lazy and unwilling (Not Unable) to make a long distance trip to look at a bus in this instance that they are interested in purchasing. IF that describes you then why are you looking at bus's a long distance from your home? Ya I know all the excuses. I'm busy at work, no time off, all the good deals are somewhere else yada yada yada!

I'll hire an inspector to go look at the bus for me. Ok that's just great. Look at all the previous posts in this thread concerning hiring an inspector will just give you an overall inspection of the bus with very little detail. Maybe if I pay more I'll get a better inspection? Maybe not!

Take a little time for some reflection as buying the bus just might be the easiest part of this adventure. You've bought a bus that was such a great deal 1500 miles away from you.

NOW WHAT???

How the hell do you get this bus adventure home?

Gee I will go out there and git it! If that's the case why didn't you do that in the first place and look at the bus BEFORE you bought it? Oh no this bus is not as good as the seller said it was. What am I gonna do? Oh crap it's going to cost a fortune to ship this bus back home cause it might not make the drive back. What if I break down driving this adventure back home? Will AAA pay the tow bill?

All you have to do is read post after post on this site of all the adventures of getting a long distance bus purchase back home. Some good and lot of bad. Where am I going to store this dream? Where will I work on this dream? Are both those locations the same?

If you were so damn busy in the first place that you could not make the time to go and look at a long distance bus purchase how in the world do you ever expect to have any time to build your bus? Just remember buying a bus long distance is EASY. The difficulties start AFTER you send the seller your money!

In the collector car business a $1000 or less will ship most cars anywhere in the USA open carrier. Can't say that for a bus. As a point of fact you will probably spend more on shipping a bus than you paid to buy the bus in a long distance purchase situation. There are several posts on this site of bus buyer's who bought a bus and just LEFT IT where was do to the transport issues, cost and time involved moving their new bus purchase to their home, changes in family dynamics or whatever. Super bad deal all around that could have been avoided with just a little front-end planning and thought.

You also should consider the cost to move the bus yourself long distance. Fuel, lodging, food, break down potential, time away from however you make your living, Spouse anger at new BIG purchase, now I got it where to park it and all the other aspects that occur AFTER that easy long distance sight unseen bus purchase.

My post is not directed at the original poster in this thread. It's something EVERYONE considering a long distance sight unseen purchase of anything should seriously consider. A bus is BIG and NOT like driving, hauling, transporting or moving a used car long distance purchase 1500 miles home. The size of a bus makes transport exponentially more expensive and difficult.

Do some serious soul searching before buying ANYTHING long distance sight unseen and truly consider all the other aspects that arise after this long distance sight unseen purchase. All of a sudden buying local might not be such a bad idea. Ya it may take a lot longer to find that perfect bus you desire do to less availability locally however that extra time will also allow you to SAVE MO MONEY to build a bigger resource pool of money for this adventure and maybe just maybe allow you to purchase a much better bus to begin your adventure.

Don't get me started about immediately diving into this bus project once you get it home by taking the bus apart and THEN deciding for whatever reason I NOW need to sell or should I say GIVE AWAY this disassembled bus project!

Something to consider!!!!
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Old 09-06-2018, 07:38 AM   #13
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when I bought my most recent Superior bus, it beiong 40 years old and in oregon, me in ohio..



the seller was cool and took lots of pictures for me all over, as well as verified the bus ran and drove.. and was upfront that a couple tires werent great..


I inquired to several companies about shipping it the 2500 miles and it came to about 6-7 grand to ship a bus.. pretty much you have to rent a Semi with a flatbad to ship a bus.. so you are paying freight per mile per pound..



with a classic car it is on a shared carrier that is often a small shipper that runs a 5 car carrier on his dually pickup..



government auctions.. - many of them have a Q and A section at the bottom of the page... others may be asking questions that answer yours.. and you can post questions as well..



whether you can drive one a long distance or not is most often unknown... even the seller doesnt know.. it was a short trip route bus.. (usually a substitute and not in daily service by now).. so they have no idea if you can run it across the country... they will usually be forthcoming and say "we drove it to the auction site" or "doesnt run".. or runs but has oil leaks etc..



remember the schools are ditching the bus for some reason.. could be it aged out or got a certain mileage on it.. or has water leaks or issues, or they are just updating their fleet because they got some $$ in the coffers..



Most of the busses bought at auctions seem to be runners.. what i mean is we see many more happy stories of people buying their busses and maiden voyages are more about learning how to back it into a parking space and less about "my bus blew up"...


incidently I drove that 40 year old bus across the country with virtually zero issues.. I did incur an air line leak which was fixed with Home depot copper fittings .. and I got the transmission hot in the rockies.. which was fixed by Not hauling ass through 8% grades..



it defintely helps to have some tools and a bit of mechanical knowledge enough to know the basics of how to change a belt, a hose, a battery, and the like.. minor issues can def occur..

-Christopher
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:51 AM   #14
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I purchased my transit bus in Ohio (I live in NJ) - the bus was from a gov auction site. I was very happy with the experience and would do it again... no inspection was possible due to distance. The bus was mostly as described and what I found wrong not described I ascribe to an honest lack of knowledge on the details on the administrative staff. It has mostly worked out for me and I used it frequently. There has been some ongoing repairs and of course mechanical stuff breaks and needs to be replaced; but that seems to be expected... When I purchased it, I sent the seller a note that I was planning to drive it back from them and asked flatly if they thought it could make the trip as is... they stated "Yes" - I asked them if I would need to do anything to ensure the trip and they stated it was good to go... I also asked to speak with the servicing mechanic when I got there... which they were happy to do and he pointed out a few things and walked me through how to use the bus features...when I won the auction... I ended up renting a car and driving it one way... dropping it off out there and then driving the Bus back - without any incident. There was a known bug with the cluster and display that I came to understand was common for this E350 series that cropped up during longer distance drives but then started to happen with alarmingly frequent(The display stops working and all the dials go to zero)... but again... would have only been known by the person driving the bus and I doubt the bus was ever driven long enough for it to show up. (it did not effect the working on the bus when it happens but I had it repaired because every time it happens it freaked me out) The only ongoing issue I repeatedly have is the ceiling AC seems to constantly fail and needs to be recharged... (likely a leak) -but that is a seasonal thing and I guess one of these days it will need to be fixed ... it also has some rust on the under carriage that I will need to deal with as it has started to eat into the floor... However, I mostly purchased this bus as a handicap vehicle for my elderly family member and will likely get a different one when this one is no longer needed and use that one to play with...
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Old 09-06-2018, 11:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
when I bought my most recent Superior bus, it beiong 40 years old and in oregon, me in ohio..



the seller was cool and took lots of pictures for me all over, as well as verified the bus ran and drove.. and was upfront that a couple tires werent great..


I inquired to several companies about shipping it the 2500 miles and it came to about 6-7 grand to ship a bus.. pretty much you have to rent a Semi with a flatbad to ship a bus.. so you are paying freight per mile per pound..



with a classic car it is on a shared carrier that is often a small shipper that runs a 5 car carrier on his dually pickup..



government auctions.. - many of them have a Q and A section at the bottom of the page... others may be asking questions that answer yours.. and you can post questions as well..



whether you can drive one a long distance or not is most often unknown... even the seller doesnt know.. it was a short trip route bus.. (usually a substitute and not in daily service by now).. so they have no idea if you can run it across the country... they will usually be forthcoming and say "we drove it to the auction site" or "doesnt run".. or runs but has oil leaks etc..



remember the schools are ditching the bus for some reason.. could be it aged out or got a certain mileage on it.. or has water leaks or issues, or they are just updating their fleet because they got some $$ in the coffers..



Most of the busses bought at auctions seem to be runners.. what i mean is we see many more happy stories of people buying their busses and maiden voyages are more about learning how to back it into a parking space and less about "my bus blew up"...


incidently I drove that 40 year old bus across the country with virtually zero issues.. I did incur an air line leak which was fixed with Home depot copper fittings .. and I got the transmission hot in the rockies.. which was fixed by Not hauling ass through 8% grades..



it defintely helps to have some tools and a bit of mechanical knowledge enough to know the basics of how to change a belt, a hose, a battery, and the like.. minor issues can def occur..

-Christopher
I think most of us have had similar experiences. Buying at auction is a gamble. I think that the government auction sites can be less risky than commercial auctions as we can communicate with the seller and, at times, review service records.

Christopher - I am still miffed that you didn't stop and visit when you where out this way...
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:09 PM   #16
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I've been a lurker for a while and had same questions as OP. Thanks for all your input, folks.

Related question: I see MUCH higher prices from commercial bus resellers, but often those busses are the harder to find ones (shorter/taller/newer/lower miles). Any experience as to whether these folks are more honest or not than government auctions?

Seems like they have busses all over the country even though they have only one home base. Are they winning these at auction and then just storing them near where bought -- then they resell them with better marketing than original auction? If so, they'd know even *less* about the bus than a govt. auction site. Any wisdom on that dimension of resellers / long distance?
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:22 PM   #17
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I've been a lurker for a while and had same questions as OP. Thanks for all your input, folks.

Related question: I see MUCH higher prices from commercial bus resellers, but often those busses are the harder to find ones (shorter/taller/newer/lower miles). Any experience as to whether these folks are more honest or not than government auctions?

Seems like they have busses all over the country even though they have only one home base. Are they winning these at auction and then just storing them near where bought -- then they resell them with better marketing than original auction? If so, they'd know even *less* about the bus than a govt. auction site. Any wisdom on that dimension of resellers / long distance?
The dealers get their buses from the same auctions we do for the same prices, then they mark them up 3x's. Maybe clean them up to make them more presentable.
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:26 PM   #18
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The dealers get their buses from the same auctions we do for the same prices, then they mark them up 3x's. Maybe clean them up to make them more presentable.
That's what I had guessed, but didn't know. Is it safe to assume that they know nothing more than we would have at auction time (with due diligence as this thread is about). But since there's one more generation of "hands on the money" -- we'd pay the markup, and possible loss of information RE bus. Is that a fair guess?
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:30 PM   #19
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That's what I had guessed, but didn't know. Is it safe to assume that they know nothing more than we would have at auction time (with due diligence as this thread is about). But since there's one more generation of "hands on the money" -- we'd pay the markup, and possible loss of information RE bus. Is that a fair guess?
Well there's a wide range of "We" here. I'm sure their inspectors are much better than many here. Could there be hidden issues that they miss, sure. I'm sure most of the dealers have mechanics that will spruce up the bus for good curb appeal.
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:31 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by vintageracer View Post
My experience in the classic car business when it comes to buyer's making long distance sight unseen purchases is no different with a Skoolie.

Let's face facts.

Most buyer's are lazy and unwilling (Not Unable) to make a long distance trip to look at a bus in this instance that they are interested in purchasing. IF that describes you then why are you looking at bus's a long distance from your home? Ya I know all the excuses. I'm busy at work, no time off, all the good deals are somewhere else yada yada yada!

I'll hire an inspector to go look at the bus for me. Ok that's just great. Look at all the previous posts in this thread concerning hiring an inspector will just give you an overall inspection of the bus with very little detail. Maybe if I pay more I'll get a better inspection? Maybe not!

Take a little time for some reflection as buying the bus just might be the easiest part of this adventure. You've bought a bus that was such a great deal 1500 miles away from you.

NOW WHAT???

How the hell do you get this bus adventure home?

Gee I will go out there and git it! If that's the case why didn't you do that in the first place and look at the bus BEFORE you bought it? Oh no this bus is not as good as the seller said it was. What am I gonna do? Oh crap it's going to cost a fortune to ship this bus back home cause it might not make the drive back. What if I break down driving this adventure back home? Will AAA pay the tow bill?

All you have to do is read post after post on this site of all the adventures of getting a long distance bus purchase back home. Some good and lot of bad. Where am I going to store this dream? Where will I work on this dream? Are both those locations the same?
I've only heard two or three stories of folks buying buses far away and having issues. The majority of us have no problems. I'm on cheap bus number five now and no problems.
If you were so damn busy in the first place that you could not make the time to go and look at a long distance bus purchase how in the world do you ever expect to have any time to build your bus? Just remember buying a bus long distance is EASY. The difficulties start AFTER you send the seller your money!

In the collector car business a $1000 or less will ship most cars anywhere in the USA open carrier. Can't say that for a bus. As a point of fact you will probably spend more on shipping a bus than you paid to buy the bus in a long distance purchase situation. There are several posts on this site of bus buyer's who bought a bus and just LEFT IT where was do to the transport issues, cost and time involved moving their new bus purchase to their home, changes in family dynamics or whatever. Super bad deal all around that could have been avoided with just a little front-end planning and thought.

You also should consider the cost to move the bus yourself long distance. Fuel, lodging, food, break down potential, time away from however you make your living, Spouse anger at new BIG purchase, now I got it where to park it and all the other aspects that occur AFTER that easy long distance sight unseen bus purchase.

My post is not directed at the original poster in this thread. It's something EVERYONE considering a long distance sight unseen purchase of anything should seriously consider. A bus is BIG and NOT like driving, hauling, transporting or moving a used car long distance purchase 1500 miles home. The size of a bus makes transport exponentially more expensive and difficult.

Do some serious soul searching before buying ANYTHING long distance sight unseen and truly consider all the other aspects that arise after this long distance sight unseen purchase. All of a sudden buying local might not be such a bad idea. Ya it may take a lot longer to find that perfect bus you desire do to less availability locally however that extra time will also allow you to SAVE MO MONEY to build a bigger resource pool of money for this adventure and maybe just maybe allow you to purchase a much better bus to begin your adventure.

Don't get me started about immediately diving into this bus project once you get it home by taking the bus apart and THEN deciding for whatever reason I NOW need to sell or should I say GIVE AWAY this disassembled bus project!

Something to consider!!!!
Some of us will NEVER find a good bus locally. I'm in FL. Florida doesn't even buy higher end buses. We get base model low spec stuff.
I've paid $2000, $1760, and $1625 for buses that were all far away and they were all just as nice as the $20,000 buses at the local stealerships.

But you do bring up some important things for the dreamers still wet behind the ears. Buying a bus is a huge undertaking.
Where to store it is the first thing one should figure out.
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