Wooohoooo! I Bought my first bus a couple of days ago with a friend and am now getting ready for the first round of headaches and baby steps that come with this new experience. I probably didn't go about it the best way but I got excited and couldn't help myself. So, any help in answering a few of these questions would be an immeasurable help.
A little about the bus. Its a 1990 GMC 71 Pass. School Bus, with a Ward Body, a Front End 366 Carb Engine (Gas) which sticks out a few feet and has a 545 Automatic Transmission with Air Brakes. It has 140k miles on it. Any thoughts on the bus? Things I should look out for that are prone to breaking. What kind of MPG should I expect? I read the MPG thread and kind of got an idea but if anyone has more experience with this type of bus, I'd love any input you could add. I'm guessing it'll be 6-8 mpg? Is that estimating too high before its filled up with my conversion stuff and people?
Here's the beauty...
First interesting baby step, I bought the bus from an auction in Texas, and I live in California. Teeehee... I have a bunch of friends who live in Texas right by the bus who said they would pick it up and store it until I or a friend arrive to pick it up. I spoke with the lot where the bus is being held and they said all they care about when its picked up is that they have proof of payment and a note from me saying I permit this person to pick it up.
So now I've been calling the Texas DPS (Dept Public Safety) trying to figure out how to register to bus in order to make it legal for my friends to at least drive it from the lot to their home and from there, at some point, back to California. They said you can get a 30 day Transport registration if the old registration has run out for the trip back to California and its only $5. But, I believe they said they'd need to see proof of insurance at the time. Does anyone know where I can purchase temporary (2-4 days?) insurance for the bus for the trip back to California? I've heard insurance is a lot cheaper if its classified as a motorhome instead of a school bus. Is it legal for my friend to drive it from the lot one hour to his house? Without Insurance? I read here on the forums that some states allow you to drive the vehicle from the lot back to your home, does that include out of state? Without insurance?
Next up, Licensing... the bus still has all the seats in it (till it gets to Cali), Do I need a commercial license to drive it since its still possible of transporting more than 15? (and 10 in california i believe...) I think i read somewhere that someone put up signs on the bus which said max occupancy 15 to combat this problem, does that work? Also I have to remove the school bus writing on the bus before driving it as well right? Also what are the limitations on people once the conversion to a motorhome is complete? 15 people max?
One more, a friend of mine mentioned that some school buses gears are restricted for driving around at slower speeds only. Not a governor to top the speed out at 65 or whatever but modifying the engine and gears and setting them lower so as to prolong their life I'm guessing? Anyone know anything about that? Is that something I should be worried about? I asked the lot but they didn't know what i was talking about. Basically I just would like some clarification on that one to ease my friends worries.
So heres a basic summary of questions I'd like help with.
1. Can I drive the Bus from the Lot to a friends house an hour away without registering it in my name or insuring it?
2. Can I drive it to California the same way?
3. If not where can I find temporary Insurance, does it exist?
4. What kind of license do I need to drive the bus in its current state before the conversion? (with 2 people in it max)
5. What do I need to modify in order for it to be driven with a non CDL if one is required?
6. How many people am I allowed to drive with after the Conversion with a Standard Class-C license? (In California and in the rest of the country)
7. Should I remove the School Bus prints on the bus before driving it to California? Paint it a different color?
8. Is there such thing as buses set in lower gears which would be bad for the bus if I was to drive it on the highway?
9. MPG, what to expect...
and 10. Is this bus a good choice for driving cross country and back over the summer or would investing in another bus (possibly diesel? rear end? smaller?) and keeping this one strictly for burning man be a better idea?
Thank you so much for any help you can provide. I've been scouring the forums trying to figure out answers for myself but am still a bit confused on these questions and would really appreciate your expertise. I've just found your wonderful community and plan on being a part of it for a while and can't thank everyone enough for the invaluable information you've posted here over the years.