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Old 10-31-2016, 12:53 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
I might buy it.

https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...222&acctid=430
So, I've been looking for several months and reading a lot of threads and believe I might have finally found the bus for me.
1985 Chevrolet BlueBird Mini Bird.
I called and spoke with a woman about it and being new to her position didn't know much about it so she took down my questions promising a call back Monday October 31 with some answers. As long as it still has the lift or at least the switches for one still inside and isn't plagued with rust I'm very interested. I really like the style and interior space including the high headroom. I know I want a Chevrolet or GMC with a gas engine so it's this or a Collins body style short bus.
From what you can see there I assume this is a reliable 350 small block?
Are there any of you out there who might know more about its reputation? Pros and cons of the P30 chassis/Type B school buses?
Also, if it feels like a go are any of you guys near Kansas City? I would really like someone to look at it for me. My only other idea is to call mechanics in the area and offer them a little money to go over there. The auction ends in a few days. Fingers crossed

- Thomas
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Old 10-31-2016, 03:31 AM   #2
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Old 10-31-2016, 07:13 AM   #3
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It appears to be a model with low headroom. IDK man but it sounds like it gonna need a lot of work to make it roadworthy.
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Old 10-31-2016, 10:15 AM   #4
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Year: 1935
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If you are not a full on mechanic I'd say you should pass on this bus unless you can travel to inspect it and then only maybe. Even if you can get the eng and trans to work well enough to drive home, the tires look a million years old and not road worthy.

Nothing wrong with the P chassis with a bus body except for a low GVW value.

If you can fix it at home and have it shipped in-------well, Ya pays Ya money an Ya takes Ya chances! Jack
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Old 10-31-2016, 11:24 AM   #5
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Coachwork: Blue Bird
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Engine: T444E
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It would seem the engine is the very well known and easy to find parts for GM 350. I don't think you'll go wrong there. The trans is questionable "as it is", a good servicing may bring it back to life or it may need a rebuild.

If it's been sitting a long time, the brakes may need work to move, or more importantly, stop moving. Tires should be checked and not just for tread depth, but also for rot and deterioration (unless you plan on replacement before driving far), and I wouldn't be surprised to see tires go for well over $100 each.
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Old 10-31-2016, 08:09 PM   #6
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Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
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Year: 1991
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Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
O the voices of reason.. You tell me in my heart what I already know to be true. So why do I fight it?
Something about this one captivates me.
Less than three days remaining.. Tonight I must decide if I'm going to find a mechanic to get over there tomorrow to look it over or not..

- Thomas
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Old 10-31-2016, 08:15 PM   #7
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that would make a great hen house, well worth 300 bucks
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Old 10-31-2016, 11:53 PM   #8
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The best prices and best condition I have found are at school and govt auctions. I will not buy from a private party or from a company selling busses. My Shuttle bus I got for $750 at a county transit auction. NW bus bought at the same auction and put on their lot for $15k. Busses deteriorate fast if not used.
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Old 11-01-2016, 09:14 AM   #9
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You can buy a junker or a good bus for just a little more. Pass on this one for sure.
When buying a house they say avoid a house with a bad foundation because you must first fix the foundation just to be any where worth the others. A Tranny is easily $1200.00.
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Old 11-01-2016, 02:35 PM   #10
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Just got quotes, $6k to rebuild tranny for 99 ford e450, used tranny plus r and r around $3-4k. Different tranny shop fixed linkage for $200, didn't need rebuild. For a skoolie budget $4-6k for repairs.
This is why many people dump their projects when the repairs cost far more than what the bus is worth. There may be problems with buying one at govt auction, but is likely to have steller maint and used regularly up to the point of sale.
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Old 11-01-2016, 03:22 PM   #11
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Join Date: May 2009
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
some schools and states have reputations for their busses as well... .. for example we have seen more than one forum member break down on the maiden voyage with georgia busses...

florida busses are often run into ground before sale...

ask around here.. it may very well be worth a plane or greyhound ticket to go farther and find a bus that meets your needs and is solid.

as also noted.. if the bus is just coming off of school service... it had to pass at least some sort of inspection to be on the road for school service..

-Christopher
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Old 11-01-2016, 04:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
some schools and states have reputations for their busses as well... .. for example we have seen more than one forum member break down on the maiden voyage with georgia busses...

florida busses are often run into ground before sale...

ask around here.. it may very well be worth a plane or greyhound ticket to go farther and find a bus that meets your needs and is solid.

as also noted.. if the bus is just coming off of school service... it had to pass at least some sort of inspection to be on the road for school service..

-Christopher
Any bus can break down, most busses are auctioned off due to law saying that at a certain age or mileage, they have to be surplused. The difference is they likely have had immaculate maintenance up to that point. With my $750 Shuttle bus, it was hard to start and created huge volume of white smoke. $300 to a mechanic and no more problem. My point being is most private party busses have sat and sat, rodents get in and eat the wiring and use it as a toilet, the engines rust from not being used and altho could be in perfect running order when parked, if not used have a high likely hood of expensive repairs. This is my second shuttle, obviously having a mechanic check it out, including brakes which are $1k to fix the front and another $1k to fix the back. How much is your life worth? Having good tires, good batteries and good breaks are just part of the expense.
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Old 11-01-2016, 04:07 PM   #13
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Join Date: May 2009
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Year: 1991
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
im with you.. any vehicle can break down at any time... even brand new ones...

but I agreee with yiou these busses were maintained enough to last as loing as they have and pass inspections...

I will say that some people have experienced amyriad of tires on their busses when they buy them... im guessing in some instanmces, a fleet manager may put the worst of the worst but still elgal tires from other busses onto one going to sale, esp if said bus had nearly new tires on it..

then we also see people getting busses with practically new tires..

on my carpenter after hearing conflicting analysis from forum members, DOT people, and commercial drivers about whether my tires were safe or not.. I went ahead and bought 6 brand new name brand tires.. Peace of mind I guess..

and yeah.. lets say I blew a tire and didnt crash... what cost would i incur in a mobile repair.. and what type of damage might occur to the bus if I blew a tire..

sure one of my new ones could blow.. however I feel im starting out in the bets possible scenerio..and I do run lots of miles on the busses..
-Christopher
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Old 11-01-2016, 05:33 PM   #14
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Chassis: Freighliner FS65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluespoet View Post
Just got quotes, $6k to rebuild tranny for 99 ford e450, used tranny plus r and r around $3-4k. Different tranny shop fixed linkage for $200, didn't need rebuild. For a skoolie budget $4-6k for repairs.
This is why many people dump their projects when the repairs cost far more than what the bus is worth. There may be problems with buying one at govt auction, but is likely to have steller maint and used regularly up to the point of sale.
Every bus I see half converted on CL makes me wonder what part went out and needs attention.
I wouldn't consider a CL or Ebay bus when its so easy to find one direct from the source. Fresh from kid hauling, not from sitting around some guys pasture or driveway for 5 years neglected.
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Old 11-01-2016, 05:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
im with you.. any vehicle can break down at any time... even brand new ones...

but I agreee with yiou these busses were maintained enough to last as loing as they have and pass inspections...

I will say that some people have experienced amyriad of tires on their busses when they buy them... im guessing in some instanmces, a fleet manager may put the worst of the worst but still elgal tires from other busses onto one going to sale, esp if said bus had nearly new tires on it..

then we also see people getting busses with practically new tires..

on my carpenter after hearing conflicting analysis from forum members, DOT people, and commercial drivers about whether my tires were safe or not.. I went ahead and bought 6 brand new name brand tires.. Peace of mind I guess..

and yeah.. lets say I blew a tire and didnt crash... what cost would i incur in a mobile repair.. and what type of damage might occur to the bus if I blew a tire..

sure one of my new ones could blow.. however I feel im starting out in the bets possible scenerio..and I do run lots of miles on the busses..
-Christopher
Yep, when a gator comes loose it can do some real damage to a bus!
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CB Lingo: CB Lingo Explanation
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Trucker Slang and CB Radio Lingo Dictionary - Talk Like a Trucker
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Old 11-01-2016, 05:45 PM   #16
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 14,382
Year: 1991
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
I remember watching the side of a camper get ate up real quick with a flapping tire... fiberglass or whatever the body of it was went flying everywhere before they got it shut down..

the wheelhouses on DEV are metal... but the ones on the new bird appear to be fiberglass.. im guessing alot of the newer busses use fiberglass wheelhouses which would mean for a pricey repair even of the body didnt get touched..

-Christopher
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Old 11-01-2016, 05:58 PM   #17
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My first shuttle I bought from a church for $300. It had been vandalized, was able to get parts from a wrecking yard from a ford van. Had to put on a windshield and new door, lived in it for 9 months, parked it for a year, had mechanical problems due to parking it and elect wiring problems. You can dump all kinds of money into these things. My advice that I take myself is that go slow about spending money, drive the thing for awhile, doing brakes on a bus all the way around is $2k and is really not a diy repair. The problem is that over time you put in quite a bit of money and then you get hit with a $4k tranny repair or $2k brake replacement. If you are not living in your bus that can be pretty pricy and if you are living in it, hopeful you budget for that kind of thing, entirely possible for you to dump the bus due to the cost of repairs. I do not try and convert my bus into a fancy motorhome, but instead take on conversion piece meal. I try and keep up on maint, like flushing the tranny, oil changes, fuel filter etc. If you have property like I do, if the maint is too much, then it becomes a shop or a spare room, even solar panels and an insulated bus are good in emergencies if you lose power for a week or two, you can be snug in a non working bus. I have AAA RV towing up to 300 miles and that can be further, if they two for 300 miles and then the repair facility is closed, it can be extended. I think having a good mechanic is vital. Esp someone who does it on the side and is very good.
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Old 11-01-2016, 06:38 PM   #18
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Join Date: May 2009
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Year: 1991
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Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
it seems like a lot are living on the road... a major repair that lasts days likely means you have to spring for a hotel.. unless you find a shop that lets you sleep in the bus while they work on it..

if you have the luxury of property then yeah it can easily become a parts bus.. yoiu find another similar and can use parts from it.. or the newly biought bus can be parts and stored...

many dont have property... so itsi mperative in my mind to know how to fix it or how to get it fixed cheaply or have a good budget on hand to fix it professionally.. esp if a person is one to shun society and stay away from people... that takes out the 'networking' of meeting someone who might fix a bux on the side..

if its simply an RV, used for weekend trips and tyou have a permanent home.. then there is the luxury that if you have a breakdown, and can get it home .. that ot can sit while you procur parts, knowledge, and possibly someone to work on it...

and of course there are those success stories of busses that were well maintained, and are well maintained now.. and dont incur breakdowns... after all our busses ARE built to last many years and many miles... so its completely conceivable that you drive and drive with no major repairs...

like isnurance though, its a good idea to have a backup plan of some sort.. set up so it can be used, hopefully it never is..

-Christopher
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Old 11-01-2016, 07:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
I remember watching the side of a camper get ate up real quick with a flapping tire... fiberglass or whatever the body of it was went flying everywhere before they got it shut down..

the wheelhouses on DEV are metal... but the ones on the new bird appear to be fiberglass.. im guessing alot of the newer busses use fiberglass wheelhouses which would mean for a pricey repair even of the body didnt get touched..

-Christopher
A wild, flapping commercial size tire can do major damage to metal, just the same.
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Old 11-03-2016, 02:04 AM   #20
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Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
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Year: 1991
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Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
* UPDATE *
I decided to do the smart thing and not go for that. I really do like the mini bird style though and I need the lift in the front. Funny enough the real kicker was its 21 feet long and only 6 foot headroom. It needs to be 18 feet to fit in a parking space with six foot four headroom.

- Thomas
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