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Old 01-14-2018, 01:25 PM   #1
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Looking for a short bus with not a lot of know-how

Hello everyone!

My wife and I are looking to start a conversion this year. We're from Europe, moving to Davis, CA this year. Back home my choice of a vehicle would obviously be different, so in addition to simply not being a mechanic, I'm lacking the general know how on american models, makes and mechanics. A few things on what we're planning to do:

- Full time living
- polyiso + spray foam insulation, then reclaimed wood finish
- bed for two
- kitchen with gad cooker
- tiny wood stove
- running on solar
- maybe shower and composting toilet

We're looking for a short bus, in order to fit into most parking spaces and rv parks. From what we think we need in a bus I think I'd go for a five/six window bus over the four window one. Was also looking at box vans for an over cabin bed, but the construction and amount of windows keep drawing me to skoolies.

Things I already learned while researching (great forum, here, thank you):
- Diesel over gas (although still confused on this one, diesel might be more expensive to maintain)
- If Ford, go for pre-2004 7.3L and avoid newer 6.0L
- Avoid shuttle busses because of fiberglass shell

I have no idea what other makes/models would suit our needs. Chevy? GMC? What do I need to know about transmissions?

Also, while looking for where to buy, I figured three options. Sites like Craigslist, Ebay motors, facebook marketplace. Dealers like A-Z busses in CA. Or government auction sites, although I don't know how they work. I do like the idea of buying from a dealer, have a vehicle checked there and an address to go to for troubleshooting. Seems a lot pricier though - A-Z busses has a 2002 Ford Thomas 7.3 Diesel with 158.000 miles for 14.000$. Seems expensive. Cheaper ones with 200k+ mileage. How much should I be worried about the miles anyway?

Sorry for all these questions. Is there a wiki to read so I won't bother you with tons of beginner's type questions?

Thank you!!

(Tried to post it before, somehow didn't work. Please delete if double.)
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Old 01-14-2018, 01:39 PM   #2
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The price of a used bus from a dealer will be approximately 3x's what you could find one for in the private market. $14K for the example you listed is extremely high, you can find those for less than $6K.

Check this place for examples of pricing.

Used School Buses For Sale - Better Buses @ Better Prices - We deliver school buses nation wide

You are at the WIKI for Skoolies.
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Old 01-14-2018, 01:47 PM   #3
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Check this place for examples of pricing.

Used School Buses For Sale - Better Buses @ Better Prices - We deliver school buses nation wide

You are at the WIKI for Skoolies.
Thanks! 3x is a lot. To much to justify the feeling of a legit dealer.
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Old 01-14-2018, 01:56 PM   #4
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How big of a bus are you looking for? Do you want front engine or rear engine, both have advantages and disadvantages. Rear engine gives more room for rear bed room, but no access from the rear. Driver is in front of the wheels so it's weird to get use to. Front engine might be flat nose or dog nose, doggies safer in a front collision. Has rear entry. Has less floor space than like sized RE. So many details to consider when you are looking.

This one has a $7500 financed price, $10% less for cash at $6750, but could probably be had for $3K or less in a private sale.
@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL

Gas mileage doesn't vary much by size, they all get crappy fuel mileage.
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Old 01-14-2018, 02:15 PM   #5
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This one has a $7500 financed price, $10% less for cash at $6750, but could probably be had for $3K or less in a private sale.
@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL
I've just been looking at the 2003 Thomas EF with my wife, admiring all the extra space you get compared to a dog nose bus of similar length. Just wondered about the GVWR. It says 30.000lbs, I think I read that 26.000lbs is the limit on standard drivers licenses. (Which is already a lot for me, my german one gives me 3.500lbs).

I'm looking for a bigger short bus. The full size six window one seems great. The four-window van cutaway would be too small. The 2003 Thomas EF is 27ft.
I wouldn't go longer because I still wanna have parking options.

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Old 01-14-2018, 02:33 PM   #6
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You will also find that medium sized FE buses, like mine, are more manuverable than a shorty because of the short wheel base.

These FE buses are often handi-buses, meaning they pick up children at their homes, necessitating navigating small driveways and turn arounds.
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Old 01-14-2018, 02:57 PM   #7
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That's good to know. How long is your FE?
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Old 01-14-2018, 06:26 PM   #8
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This TC1000 model is 26' long with 21' of flat unobstructed floor. The wheelchair capable buses have these nice flat floors.
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Old 01-14-2018, 06:44 PM   #9
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it's a shame the bus your wife wants is rated at 30klbs, I've seen bigger buses rated at only 20.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:08 PM   #10
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Well, you know what they say. It's not all about the size.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:27 PM   #11
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Well, you know what they say. It's not all about the size.
Is that what she said?
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:28 PM   #12
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The price of a used bus from a dealer will be approximately 3x's what you could find one for in the private market. $14K for the example you listed is extremely high, you can find those for less than $6K.

Check this place for examples of pricing.

Used School Buses For Sale - Better Buses @ Better Prices - We deliver school buses nation wide

You are at the WIKI for Skoolies.
Dude!!! Thx for this link!!! Layaway!!! Damn I'm closer than I thought I was!!! And, as an example, I saw a FE with only 3 seats...and no lift (has the door though)...$7500...gotta replace my scooter 1st...but this looks promising for sure

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Old 01-14-2018, 07:33 PM   #13
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Dude!!! Thx for this link!!! Layaway!!! Damn I'm closer than I thought I was!!! And, as an example, I saw a FE with only 3 seats...and no lift (has the door though)...$7500...gotta replace my scooter 1st...but this looks promising for sure

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Here's the specs for the example

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Old 01-14-2018, 07:39 PM   #14
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Jdawg, I think he might be looking at something different because that one is rated at 30,000 GAWR, and if I'm not mistaken, correct me if I'm wrong, needs a CDL to operate?

That $7500 is the layaway price, cash price is 10% cheaper.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:42 PM   #15
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You do know that company has about the highest prices in the country, right?

No, you don't need a CDL to drive a private bus, not in any state.

You might need a non-commercial Class B or A and/or an air-brake endorsement. Check your state requirements and don't let anyone tell you that a CDL is necessary.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:59 PM   #16
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You do know that company has about the highest prices in the country, right?

No, you don't need a CDL to drive a private bus, not in any state.

You might need a non-commercial Class B or A and/or an air-brake endorsement. Check your state requirements and don't let anyone tell you that a CDL is necessary.
The place in Tampa is way higher priced.
Thanks foe educating me on the license requirements. You may have made it easier for the OP.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:13 PM   #17
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Jdawg, I think he might be looking at something different because that one is rated at 30,000 GAWR, and if I'm not mistaken, correct me if I'm wrong, needs a CDL to operate?

That $7500 is the layaway price, cash price is 10% cheaper.
Yeah, there is the weight issue...I guess I kinda derailed the thread because I was thinking of my options...lol...so how many thingsare different from a class A and class B

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Old 01-14-2018, 08:15 PM   #18
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Yeah, there is the weight issue...I guess I kinda derailed the thread because I was thinking of my options...lol...so how many thingsare different from a class A and class B

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Class A adds the entitlement to pull a trailer exceeding 10000 lbs.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:32 PM   #19
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In the state of Georgia a Class A and Class B license are endorsements only on a CDL. There are Class E and F (formerly A & B) for non CDL that reads:

Class E (formerly Non-Commercial Class A)**

Truck trailer or tractor-semi trailer combination in which the combination weight exceeds 26,001 pounds and the unit being towed exceeds 10,000 pounds.

Applicants for a Driverís License in Classes E or F (non-commercial) must submit a Form DDS-36 (Affidavit showing minimum driving experience of 3 months and/or 3,000 miles in type of vehicle for class of driverís license being applied for.)

Class F (formerly Non-Commercial Class B)**

Single vehicles weighing 26,001 or more pounds; and the unit being towed is less than 10,000 pounds; and motor vehicles included within Class C. Applicants must possess a Class C driverís license prior to obtaining a Class B driverís license and be at least 18 years of age.

Applicants for a Driverís License in Classes E or F (non-commercial) must submit a Form DDS-36 (Affidavit showing minimum driving experience of 3 months and/or 3,000 miles in type of vehicle for class of driverís license being applied for.)



Now what I want to know is how I get 3000 miles of experience in this type vehicle without a proper drivers license?
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:45 PM   #20
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Class A adds the entitlement to pull a trailer exceeding 10000 lbs.
What about insurance costs? Do you have to go to school to get a class A?

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