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Old 06-10-2017, 07:03 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Looking for a 6 window Type B

So I have been in the market searching for a 6-7 window diesel school bus for several months now and I assumed this was going to be halfway easy to find the type or bus I was looking for......

well you know how to spell assume, dont ya?!

Whether I find one that already has +300,000 miles or it is a rust bucket, something always seems to rear its ugly head. I started out a bit more picky with what I was looking for, however I am becoming less and less particular as the months pass by. Of course I would rather have these issues happen before I buy it than after, however I am still building some frustration.

My question to you all is this, have you all came across any 6-7 window school buses for sale recently? I guarantee that diamond in the rough is still out there, I just havent found it yet.

I would appreciate any help I can get.


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Old 06-10-2017, 09:42 AM   #2
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There have been several people that have bought 7 window buses in the past couple months. There are a lot of eyes here that can help you find a bus, but people need to know where you are unless you're willing to drive across the country to get your bus home. It helps if we have some idea of how much you've budgeted for your bus also.

There is a thread here called "Non-affiliated Buses for Sale Thread" that good deals are reported on, with links, that anyone can buy.

These are some of the primary places we like to look for buses.

https://www.govdeals.com/

Public Surplus: Government Surplus Auctions

Government Surplus Auctions at Government Liquidation

Good luck in your search.
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Old 06-10-2017, 10:24 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for your reply Robin. That is the main reason I decided to post on here. The more eyes out there, the better luck I will have....maybe....haha

I am based just outside of Louisville, KY. I am trying to stay away from auctions because I want to test drive the bus first hand before I purchase it. I also do not like the idea of buying vehicles sight unseen. I do not have an issue flying out to check out the bus and driving it home if it is worth the money. I would rather do that than a sight unseen purchase.

I have found these sites like helpful but they havent given up my unicorn just yet.
commercialtrucktrader.com
truckpaper.com
claz.org (searches craigslist postings)

In an ideal world.....Here the specs I am looking for:

6 Window Type B under $4000
Cummins or DT (icing on the cake)
Diesel
Less than 150,000 miles
Air brakes over Hyd (for steep mtn driving out west)
Good running and driving condition
Older model the better (more mechanical instead of those electronics in the newer models)
Less rust the better

Overall budget is $12000-$15000 for the conversion. I am going to be creating a completely off grid set up. Solar with a battery bank, rain collection, wood stove, etc. I will be taking this bus and living in it full time out west chasing winter so I can snowboard +100 days a year and finding great hiking spots the rest of the year. <-- So I need a bus that can handle mountains

Again, any advice or pointers are welcome. I have been researching quite a bit but I am always looking to learn more.


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Old 06-10-2017, 11:05 AM   #4
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I looked for a couple years to find my 7 window bus.wound up having a bunch of miles on it but has so far won my affection. I would get over the air brake thing though... almost all the 3/4 skoolies I looked at had them.
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Old 06-10-2017, 11:19 AM   #5
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It sounds like you're very realistic on both your purchase budget and your build budget. At the same time, the buses most of us like to buy are from the auctions. If you find them in vehicle lots or Carigslist, you're most likely buying them from a re-seller that bought them from the auctions. You should do what you're most comfortable with, but it's more likely that you'd get false information from a re-seller than from the bus barns. The bus barns have no reason to lie, and the mechanics will usually talk with you. You're not allowed to drive them, but if they were recently in service hauling children they can't be to bad. Even the worst buses I've bought at auction ran nice. Like it or not, I frequently buy auction vehicles sight unseen. Occasionally I get taught a valuable lesson, but it's not that often. You know the deal, no guts - no glory. I'd rather buy a bus at the bus barn through the auction. You are allowed to look at them prior to the sale and likely they'll even start them for you during your inspection. It's not that big of a risk if the bus barn says they're running. I'm obviously for auctions. There are some amazing deals. I'll get off that subject.

You're likely familiar with the rust belt and know not to buy buses from there. People do find good buses occasionally even in the rust belt though. The favored buses seem to begin in Colorado and most of the western states because we don't use salt on our roads normally. Colorado buses are more geared to mountain driving and could very easily come from a ski area. Same with certain areas of Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona.

For the bus you want ideally you're going to need to try to purchase a bus from a mountainous school district. Pre '98 would be a safe bet for mechanical, but some models are sort of in between mech and computers through '05.

A seven window bus would be about right for what you're planning. I'm in a nine window, but I have a garage in the back via my lift. Bus shopping should be good this time of year but there are buyers from South America that are buying up many of the buses and driving up prices.
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Old 06-10-2017, 11:37 AM   #6
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I saw a pair of 5-6 window IH shorties on one of the auction sites, set up with wheelchair lifts. Bidding exceeded the amount I was willing to spend "blind" (the auctions have few pics, and very little info other than "fair condition"), but the reserve wasn't met ...

Well, I gave the district a call after the auction was over. Spoke to who I assume was one of the lead mechanics who seemed very knowledgeable about the condition of them and I was informed that the injectors had been replaced relatively recently (these IH's have the T444 engines, air brakes and 5-speed manuals). They are back up for auction in southern WV ... and if you are interested, advise me in PM's as I plan to bid on one too!
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Old 06-10-2017, 12:26 PM   #7
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Love seeing all these responses. Thank you so much. It actually eases my anxiety a lot to know that you all seem to prefer auctions over resellers. It makes complete sense after you said auctions have no reason to lie like a reseller does. Not sure why that concept never clicked in my tiny brain. To be completely honest, I have not checked the availability on 6 windows within the auction blocks. This is something I would be willing to reconsider after making more sense of why you would prefer an auction.

Brad - If I go that route, I will definitely reach out so we can keep each other in the loop. It means a lot that you are willing to share info you are wanting to bid on yourself. I would hate to have each other drive up the price for the other one without knowing we are doing so. Not to mention, since it was your find, I would not knowingly want to bet against you.

All ideas, thoughts, or considerations are greatly appreciated. Keep them coming guys!


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Old 06-10-2017, 05:00 PM   #8
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iBiskuit, have you considered telling us where you are located? We'll be in a better position to help you if we can narrow down the market.
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:02 PM   #9
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CaptSquid - Just outside Louisville, KY


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Old 06-11-2017, 01:02 AM   #10
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I'm actually looking for a similar bus myself.

Here's the specs I'm looking for:
- 5-8 window bus (preference for 8.)
- DT466 with a MD3060/MT643/similar
- $4500 or less
- 250,000 miles or less
- minimal rust
- decent driving condition
- handicap lifts (for the air ride suspension and flat floors)

I'm located in southern california though so hopefully we wont be going after the same buses. My search range basically starts out here in california and extends out to texas, colorado, idaho, and washington at the furthest.

In any event I'd like to keep in touch just so we don't end up bidding against each other and driving our prices up unnecessarily.
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Old 06-11-2017, 06:26 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by JSTriton View Post
I'm actually looking for a similar bus myself.

Here's the specs I'm looking for:
- 5-8 window bus (preference for 8.)
- DT466 with a MD3060/MT643/similar
- $4500 or less
- 250,000 miles or less
- minimal rust
- decent driving condition
- handicap lifts (for the air ride suspension and flat floors)

I'm located in southern california though so hopefully we wont be going after the same buses. My search range basically starts out here in california and extends out to texas, colorado, idaho, and washington at the furthest.

In any event I'd like to keep in touch just so we don't end up bidding against each other and driving our prices up unnecessarily.
being in california dont you pretty much have to buy units located in state because of CARB? or are there exemptions for old school busses converted to RV's?
-Christopher
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Old 06-11-2017, 08:49 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
being in california dont you pretty much have to buy units located in state because of CARB? or are there exemptions for old school busses converted to RV's?
-Christopher
Basically yeah, I found another thread on here (via google search) that talks about that exact problem. It is a bureaucratic hurdle but not an impossible barrier.

Anyway I don't wanna go on too much about that tangent here cause I consider it to be thread hijacking/derailing. I only wrote my first post because I thought it was relevant to the original topic; this tangent not so much.
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Old 06-11-2017, 08:50 AM   #13
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Most definitely JSTriton. I hope you find your unicorn!


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Old 06-11-2017, 08:54 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by JSTriton View Post
Basically yeah, I found another thread on here (via google search) that talks about that exact problem. It is a bureaucratic hurdle but not an impossible barrier.

Anyway I don't wanna go on too much about that tangent here cause I consider it to be thread hijacking/derailing. I only wrote my first post because I thought it was relevant to the original topic; this tangent not so much.
I only mentioned it so you'd be aware of the possible hurdles of bringing a bus into the state. esp if you end up with a newer unit.
-Christopher
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Old 06-12-2017, 01:18 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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So as far as I have been reading, it simply depends on who you talk to regarding T444E engines and their life span. I found a 6 window bus with minimal rust but it has 275,000 miles on it. The bus is a 97 International Bluebird with a T444E and HYD brakes. They are asking $7500 and seem to be pretty firm on that number. I find that a bit steep considering how many miles are on it. Im not sure how many hours it has on it.

I know depending on the engine and how well it was properly maintained, there is a chance it has a lot of life left. However, there is always that chance that it could go belly up on the way home.

What is everybodys opinion? Is it worth investing into a bus with that many miles?


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Old 06-12-2017, 01:22 PM   #16
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Short answer; NO

Long answer; It's a combination of high miles and wet brakes for me. I'd choose another.

No complaints about the cornbinder but if that's a full length bus it's going to be slow.
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Old 06-12-2017, 01:32 PM   #17
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Appreciate the input Robin


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Old 06-12-2017, 01:33 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
Short answer; NO

Long answer; It's a combination of high miles and wet brakes for me. I'd choose another.

No complaints about the cornbinder but if that's a full length bus it's going to be slow.
What's the downside of hyd brakes?
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Old 06-12-2017, 01:46 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by JSTriton View Post
What's the downside of hyd brakes?
This story pretty much sums it up..
link

With air brakes, if you have a hose break the spring brakes come on.

With air brakes, the default is full brake application. With hydraulic brakes, the default is no brakes at all.
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Old 06-12-2017, 02:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iBiskuit View Post
So as far as I have been reading, it simply depends on who you talk to regarding T444E engines and their life span. I found a 6 window bus with minimal rust but it has 275,000 miles on it. The bus is a 97 International Bluebird with a T444E and HYD brakes. They are asking $7500 and seem to be pretty firm on that number. I find that a bit steep considering how many miles are on it. Im not sure how many hours it has on it.

I know depending on the engine and how well it was properly maintained, there is a chance it has a lot of life left. However, there is always that chance that it could go belly up on the way home.

What is everybodys opinion? Is it worth investing into a bus with that many miles?


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"Minimal rust" is the first major red flag I see. A bit of surface rust is not a deal breaker, anything more than that and I would run.

I've been told the T444 can be a million mile engine if it's properly cared for. Injectors and the associated valve cover gaskets and wiring harness (they're sort of an integrated piece) will likely need replacement in the 200-300K mile range, so this bus may need that soon if it hasn't already been done ... and these injectors ain't cheap, at around $200-300 *EACH* (there's 8 ). I'm further told bad injectors are a common cold-start problem frequently blamed on the glow plugs, and it's a time consuming (if not terribly difficult) job to do.

I'm not a fan of hydraulic brakes on buses for the above mentioned reason, I'm a professional driver by trade so I'm quite accustomed to driving air brakes.

The $7500 seems quite steep considering what we can snag these at auctions for ... if it had brand new tires, brakes, injectors and other parts very recently installed, then *MAYBE* I'd negotiate. 6 tires will set you back $1200-1800 (or more, depending what you get, average $250-300 each). Brakes at around $200/axle. Injector job (typically including the gaskets and wiring harness), parts alone is like $2500-3000, plus about a day's labor. If *ALL* this has been done (with documentation to prove it), then maybe it's worth it.

Information is knowledge. Knowledge is power. Use it to negotiate. Tell the seller you have some idea of what you're looking at, what you expect if none of this has been done. There's no way any school bus this age, needing an injector job, is worth over $10K (after the work is done).
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