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Old 02-11-2021, 08:51 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 11
Looking for a 30’ or shorter!

I am in the market for a 30’ or less. Not looking for any specific model, just one in good condition ready for converting. No 6.0s or AT545s. I am ready to pull the trigger as soon as anything logical comes up!

If you have one, or if you hear of any on the market, please keep me in mind! I will travel to pick it up.

Thanks!

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Old 02-11-2021, 09:03 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 2,392
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
Where are you?

There’s a serious shortage of school buses right now. So many newer members are finding shuttles.

I think things will shake loose by December when bus yards become fully active again
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Old 02-11-2021, 09:24 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 11
Im currently in Wisconsin, but will be taking the bus down to Arizona to complete the build at my family's home.

I have done a TON of research on school busses, wouldnt even know where to start on the shuttles.
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Old 02-11-2021, 09:29 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 2,392
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
Don’t let me discourage you. Patience. Good luck
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Old 02-13-2021, 06:49 PM   #5
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 190
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466 / MD3060
Newbie here also looking for a 28' or less bus.

I've been seeing a ton of busses @ Midwest Transit.
https://www.midwesttransit.com/search/used/tp/
I'm originally from Iowa - currently in Las Vegas - and I'm even thinking of taking a trip back home once things "clear up" to check out their inventory.

Good luck with the hunt - we're in it together!!
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Old 02-13-2021, 07:16 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Near Flagstaff AZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear Gerschafer View Post
I'm originally from Iowa - currently in Las Vegas !
You might want to check out Las Vegas Bus Sales, if you're in LV. I have no affiliation with them, besides having made a couple of purchases there and finding them to be decent people with a large inventory of nice buses. They have a nice mechanic's shop there, too.
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Old 02-14-2021, 10:05 AM   #7
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Posts: 2
Midwest Transit has a ton of 2009 conventional (dognose) 6 window, flat floor, IC200's with DT466 engine and air brakes.

Unfortunately they ALL appear to be very rusty. They are priced from $8600 to $10,700. The more expensive ones might not be as rusty?

Here's a search for 29-30 window conventional air brake busses:
https://www.midwesttransit.com/searc...&st=30&tp=used
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Old 02-14-2021, 11:33 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 11
Thanks Jim,

Ive been looking at their site, unfortunately those are the MAXXforce DT4566 engines that I have been advised to steer clear from. Also, a bit outside of my comfortable budget unless it had EVERYTHING I wanted.
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Old 02-15-2021, 05:10 AM   #9
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: On the road
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Year: 2013
Chassis: IC RE
Engine: HT570 / 3500SP
Rated Cap: 4
Don't let this Maxxforce alone break a deal if everything else on the bus fits with what you're looking for. The 466 is not the worst of the Maxxforces. Worst case, it's easier to fix or even swap an engine (and that could be needed whatever year and brand of engine you'll get) than to deal with a rusted frame. Not fun to need days and tons of WD40 each time you need to unbolt something under the bus.
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Old 02-15-2021, 06:24 AM   #10
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 399
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Crown Super Coach
Chassis: Built on a Crown Chassis
Engine: 300HP BIG CAM TURBO 855
Rated Cap: 78
I have a Blue Bird TC2000 between 26 and 28 feet. Transit style with the Cummins 5.9T...12 Valve fully mechanical. But just to show I'm listening it does have the AT545.105K Actual miles. And still seated. And in perfect condition.
Now I recognize the limitations of the 545 yet I nonetheless purchased this Bus. No lock out torque converter.

And I have owned many of these Shorties. And have never had one of these transmissions fail. Why? What kills them? Heat kills them. Not knowing how to make a descent will kill them. Excessive runaway RPM's will kill them. But then that will kill any transmission. Especially an automatic.

BUT:. My first step with this bus would be to change out the rear end. From a 4.58 to a 3.54.....and heat no longer becomes an issue. There is one over riding and abiding flaw in the school bus conversion game in my opinion:
One word. Gearing. For the most part they are not appropriately geared for protracted highway driving on their medium duty engines and their 4.58 to 5.38 rear ends. To much inefficiency, to much heat and too much noise.
NOW. This has been overcome to a certain extent with electronic controlled engines and transmissions.
But at what cost? How many horror stories have these pages been filled with? DPF...DEF...ECM...ECU...TCU...
EGR...sensors failing and hand held diagnostics schematics and....and..... phantoms and tows from one shop to another and wonder and frustration.....limp mode....So yes gear ratios have been overcome but at a cost in my opinion

So I'm a believer in gauges and fluid changes, fresh filters and mechanical operating systems. So I change out my rear gears. 3.54's allow me to Cruise closer to the HP/TQ curve. Less heat. Better fuel economy. Engine and Transmission longevity and very importantly quiet ....I can cruise comfortably at 65-70 at 1950 or 2000 RPM. as opposed to wound out and screaming at 2400....


OK. A bit off track. But there are a lot of people who know what they're doing and a lot of people who don't. For every AT545 that fails there are 1000's
if not 10's of thousands that go the distance. Is it the best and heartiest and efficient transmission? Hell no.
But it works and gets the job done.

So that's the end of my speech. I have a shorty TC2000 that's unmolested and beautiful.....if you are interested let me know. In my opinion. They haven't done much in the school bus world to improve upon these pre+2004 School buses. Actually some would argue. Pre 2000.....whatever. The best of luck to you and happy trails.😁
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I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road... all tongues and all prayers belong to me. But I belong to none of them.
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Old 02-15-2021, 08:58 AM   #11
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Brazoria County, Texas
Posts: 801
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 32 Passenger
Don’t mean to be an ASS about this, but I’ve noticed a trend here. Folks don’t seem to want to fill out their profiles of where they are located. Then when asked, they give their location. I understand folks not wanting to divulge too much info on the net, but that is kinda what this forum is all about. BTW, there are a couple of short busses here, down in South Texas.
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Old 02-15-2021, 10:27 AM   #12
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Lebanon, Indiana
Posts: 805
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Winnebago
Chassis: Ford F53
Engine: Ford Triton V-10
Rated Cap: currently 2
If you're planning to go to Arizona anyways I'd recommend buying in Arizona. AAA Bus Sales in Phoenix gets good quality west coast buses which are usually cleaner (no rust) and more powerful (mountains) than what you'll find in the Midwest.
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Old 02-15-2021, 10:36 AM   #13
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Near Flagstaff AZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
If you're planning to go to Arizona anyways I'd recommend buying in Arizona. AAA Bus Sales in Phoenix gets good quality west coast buses which are usually cleaner (no rust) and more powerful (mountains) than what you'll find in the Midwest.
Good call on AAA Bus Sales. Two other options are Canyon State Bus Sales, in the Phoenix valley, and Las Vegas Bus Sales in LV (of course!). You'll typically pay more from a dealer, but that may come with the advantage of some vetting and new batteries and/or tires. Las Vegas Bus sales has about 40 buses, most in the 7-7.5k range. Canyon State doesn't have as many, I think, but they also have buses in that price range. And as Sehnsucht said...these are all rust free.
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Old 02-15-2021, 11:01 AM   #14
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Huntington Beach CA.
Posts: 905
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: T/C 2000 28 foot Handy Bus
Engine: Cummins 5.9 Mechanical
Rated Cap: 2
"So I'm a believer in gauges and fluid changes, fresh filters and mechanical operating systems." Indeed I also own a mechanical T/C 2000 28 foot. What was your cost on the rear end gear change? Thanks, Joe
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Old 02-15-2021, 04:04 PM   #15
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 399
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Crown Super Coach
Chassis: Built on a Crown Chassis
Engine: 300HP BIG CAM TURBO 855
Rated Cap: 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivetboy View Post
"So I'm a believer in gauges and fluid changes, fresh filters and mechanical operating systems." Indeed I also own a mechanical T/C 2000 28 foot. What was your cost on the rear end gear change? Thanks, Joe

Had it done at Peterson CAT in Portland Oregon.....by the time it was all said and done it was about $1750.00. Well worth it..
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Old 02-15-2021, 05:11 PM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 11
First off, thank you all for the outpouring of support today I truly appreciate it. Truth of the matter is, I have no personal experience with buses, or even mid to large equipment experience. All I know, is I am absolutely in love with the Skoolie life and culture, and would really like to go about building mine the right way as I would like for it to last many many years and many many miles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ABBus View Post
Don't let this Maxxforce alone break a deal if everything else on the bus fits with what you're looking for. The 466 is not the worst of the Maxxforces. Worst case, it's easier to fix or even swap an engine (and that could be needed whatever year and brand of engine you'll get) than to deal with a rusted frame. Not fun to need days and tons of WD40 each time you need to unbolt something under the bus.
This is a factor I have debating lately, once again no personal experience. All I know is it is the general consensus to avoid them. I am currently looking at my dream bus spec wise, but it does have rust. I dont know what is acceptable and what is not. I will add some pictures in later for maybe some second opinions. Thank you for your time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mokibrabrant View Post
Now I recognize the limitations of the 545 yet I nonetheless purchased this Bus. No lock out torque converter.
Once again, the only experience I have is the research that I have done. I have heard horror stories of the AT545 on declines, and I fully intend to have my skoolie in the mountains. Im not sure im educated and competent enough to feel comfortable operating the 545 in such conditions. Im sure I could and I could learn, but peace of mind is a big factor for me and I would think about it every time I was on a mountain no matter if I was competent or not.

I would love to learn more about the gearing change and what all that means. Thank you for bringing it to my attention!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phatman View Post
Folks don’t seem to want to fill out their profiles of where they are located. Then when asked, they give their location... BTW, there are a couple of short busses here, down in South Texas.
My apologies, no intention on trying to hide any information. Profile has been updated with location. Id love to take a look at those busses, where can I find them? Thanks a bunch!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
If you're planning to go to Arizona anyways I'd recommend buying in Arizona. AAA Bus Sales in Phoenix gets good quality west coast buses which are usually cleaner (no rust) and more powerful (mountains) than what you'll find in the Midwest.
The idea of buying one while I was here, was it seemed more economical to me. I looked into a uhaul for my move, and its going to cost me $2500. Figured Id rather put that into my bus and then use it to transport my household goods. Ill def look into AAA, thanks for the lead!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mokibrabrant View Post
Had it done at Peterson CAT in Portland Oregon.....by the time it was all said and done it was about $1750.00. Well worth it..
What has your experience been since? This seems like it may be a very viable option, that I hadnt known about before.
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Old 02-15-2021, 05:43 PM   #17
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 1,169
Year: 1999
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC1000 HandyBus
Engine: 5.9L 24V-L6 Cummins ISB
Rated Cap: 26 foot
Quote:
Originally Posted by Live.Klaff.Love View Post
I am currently looking at my dream bus spec wise, but it does have rust. I dont know what is acceptable and what is not. I will add some pictures in later for maybe some second opinions. Thank you for your time!

Once again, the only experience I have is the research that I have done. I have heard horror stories of the AT545 on declines, and I fully intend to have my skoolie in the mountains. Im not sure im educated and competent enough to feel comfortable operating the 545 in such conditions. Im sure I could and I could learn, but peace of mind is a big factor for me and I would think about it every time I was on a mountain no matter if I was competent or not.

I would love to learn more about the gearing change and what all that means. Thank you for bringing it to my attention!


The idea of buying one while I was here, was it seemed more economical to me. I looked into a uhaul for my move, and its going to cost me $2500. Figured Id rather put that into my bus and then use it to transport my household goods. Ill def look into AAA, thanks for the lead!
Rust is cancer. Avoid it if at all possible. That said, a little bit on the right bus at the right price may be just fine. You can always cut out or treat the rust.


I've got the AT545. No, it's not the best on the highway, but it is a stout little gearbox; just keep the fluid clean and fresh. As far as downhill, if you can press the brake pedal, and start downhill slow and don't let it build up speed. you will be fine. A better tranny will help, but will not stop a runaway truck with no brakes anyway. Most buses have automatic trannys, and none will help that much. A manual tranny will.


The gearing change is in the rear-axle assembly. A 3.56 rear-end gear means the motor spins 3.56 times for each time the wheel spins, when the tranny is in top gear, (but not overdrive). The lower the gearing ratio, the slower the motor spins for a given road speed; or conversely, the faster the road speed for a given motor RPM. But a higher gear ratio is less stress on the motor and tranny when starting from a stop. School buses start and stop all day, so they are typically geared higher. I was lucky to get 3.56 gears in mine, so even without the lockup or overdrive in the AT545, I can still do over 70mph on the highway on flattish ground.


If you buy a bus in AZ and take it to Wisconsin, even if you decide it is the wrong bus for you later, you could sell it there for more $$$ because it will be rust-free in a rust-belt.
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Old 02-15-2021, 06:23 PM   #18
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Brazoria County, Texas
Posts: 801
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 32 Passenger
LKL, it’s a pretty good distance from you. They are here in South Texas, Alvin. The A/C works and he’s asking $4700. I know he would be negotiable. If you are interested, PM me for more details.
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Old 02-15-2021, 07:01 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 55
Year: 2008
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: IC CE300
Engine: Maxxforce DT
Humm. Bought a 2008 IC300 last June 30 feet, 210,000 miles with Maxxforce DT in Maryland, very little rust for $3800 (there were more buses like it available from same School district). Looks like Midwesttransit have a little bit less miles, same engine and after-treatment system, but twice the price and rusty. That does not seem right price to me (and I would not even consider that I had a particular good deal @ $3800)
Now, that being said, I have been fighting a parking brake issue since then, not resolved yet, whereas I was expecting engine/emission system issues instead
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Old 02-15-2021, 07:53 PM   #20
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
Posts: 399
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
Don't assume you'll be able to buy a bus and throw stuff in it to move. If you haven't already done so, check your local laws about what you have to do to put a school bus on the road as a private vehicle. I can't get insurance on mine in New Jersey until I prove it's converted. You don't want to drive an old school bus you just bought without, at least, liability insurance.

I agree with those that said buy when you get there. Before I bought my bus locally in NJ I was watching the ads on the AAA website and they get some nice buses, lots of shorties, the only downside is the AT545 and, if that's a deal killer, you could always swap it out down the road if you found it unbearable to run.
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