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Old 02-02-2021, 09:25 AM   #1
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Talking Purchasing at auction & related questions

Hey folks, new here - but will be around for sure!



Lucky for me, my friend owns a car dealership and is happy to help me purchase at auction!

I've got my mind set on a 5-6 window bus. I've got a pretty good budget, up to $7k if the miles are super low. But thats about the extent of my knowledge so far. I'm not super mechanically inclined - and the advice I've solicited from friends and family has been sporadic at best.

Two biggest questions to start out are:
- Are there any problems with *newer* busses? I've seen some ramblings about "hope its pre-2004" but I've yet to get a clear answer by reading around.
- Is a 450/4500 pretty much *the* way to go, or nah?

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Old 02-02-2021, 11:11 AM   #2
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Depends where you are, in CA 450 diesel busses are a no go without creative registration stuff. Pre 2004 refers to emissions equipment that complicates and reduces the reliability of busses that became mandated around that year.
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Old 02-02-2021, 11:14 AM   #3
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2004 and after have more emissions stuff that can cause a lot of trouble. So any engine after that you need to get familiar with and make sure the maintenance on the emissions stuff is up to date. It gets worse around 07, and anything maxxforce run from unless you really know what you are doing or have deep pockets. This is for diesel engines.
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Old 02-02-2021, 11:39 AM   #4
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2004 and after have more emissions stuff that can cause a lot of trouble. So any engine after that you need to get familiar with and make sure the maintenance on the emissions stuff is up to date. It gets worse around 07, and anything maxxforce run from unless you really know what you are doing or have deep pockets. This is for diesel engines.
Thanks, Ronnie! This helps.

I know everyone has diff opinions here, but I'd love to crowd-source those opinions. If you could buy any short-bus, which would it be and why? Really appreciate the help - this is my biggest mental block so far!
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Old 02-02-2021, 11:40 AM   #5
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Depends where you are, in CA 450 diesel busses are a no go without creative registration stuff. Pre 2004 refers to emissions equipment that complicates and reduces the reliability of busses that became mandated around that year.
I'd be registering in Maine where there are no emissions tests, just rust, general safety and electrical checks. Do places like CA care if I'm rolling through with another state's registration but no emissions? I'm assuming they don't but want to double check. Thanks!
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Old 02-02-2021, 11:42 AM   #6
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In a "Short" bus, it's Gasoline power FTW. Especially in cold winter areas...
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:10 PM   #7
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In a "Short" bus, it's Gasoline power FTW. Especially in cold winter areas...
Respectfully I disagree, there arenít many gas engines that can put up with lugging around a bus for very long. Most newer busses with gas engines either have a 3v triton or a gm ls 4.8 or lq 6.0. All these are okay until you make them work hard for a long time with the possible exception of the gm 6.0. The fuel economy is abysmal. I used to drive little collins bantams full of kids every once in a while as a side gig and I could never pass up a gas station. That bus had a 4.8 and it was pinned all the time on these hills around here. Eager to start seeing fords new 7.3 godzilla engine in the wild. Maybe an older bbc or bbf bus with an rv cam and a giant oil cooler would be a good choice. I thought about buying a bus with a 460 and spicing it up a little with flat top pistons and a MILD cam.
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:27 PM   #8
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Respectfully I disagree, there arenít many gas engines that can put up with lugging around a bus for very long. Most newer busses with gas engines either have a 3v triton or a gm ls 4.8 or lq 6.0. All these are okay until you make them work hard for a long time with the possible exception of the gm 6.0. The fuel economy is abysmal. I used to drive little collins bantams full of kids every once in a while as a side gig and I could never pass up a gas station. That bus had a 4.8 and it was pinned all the time on these hills around here. Eager to start seeing fords new 7.3 godzilla engine in the wild. Maybe an older bbc or bbf bus with an rv cam and a giant oil cooler would be a good choice. I thought about buying a bus with a 460 and spicing it up a little with flat top pistons and a MILD cam.
I've spent a little time in San Francisco. Could a bus even make it up to the top of Nob Hill (or similar)?
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:56 PM   #9
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Respectfully I disagree, there arenít many gas engines that can put up with lugging around a bus for very long.
Your thoughts are valid regarding full sized busses, or short busses towing heavy loads.
Other than that on short, van chassis busses, gas trumps diesel in my opinion as well as others...
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Old 02-02-2021, 01:30 PM   #10
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Your thoughts are valid regarding full sized busses, or short busses towing heavy loads.
Other than that on short, van chassis busses, gas trumps diesel in my opinion as well as others...
Thanks for chiming in - in your opinion, which is the winner as far as making it safely up a mtn drive at, lets say, a bare minimum of 50mph? I am deff concerned about being one of those busses getting passed by semis at 25mph - reallllly not interested in that!

I don't plan to have anything particularly heavy (no roof or back deck comes to mind first), but I do plan to have fresh+grey water and all the amenities.
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Old 02-02-2021, 05:07 PM   #11
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Thanks for chiming in - in your opinion, which is the winner as far as making it safely up a mtn drive at, lets say, a bare minimum of 50mph? I am deff concerned about being one of those busses getting passed by semis at 25mph - reallllly not interested in that!

I don't plan to have anything particularly heavy (no roof or back deck comes to mind first), but I do plan to have fresh+grey water and all the amenities.
My opinion, for a cutaway van style bus go with gas, Triton v10 or the gm 6.0.
Keep the weight down for your build, use modular components if you can and if building from scratch think panel veneers and trims like a factory camper instead of large amounts of 2x4's. Plan your end use and don't over tank it for your water and waste. If you can reprovision every few days why pack an 80 gallon water tank.
Just my thoughts
Good luck in your search and stay safe.

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Old 02-02-2021, 06:14 PM   #12
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I more or less have my "ultimate" shorty. 5 window thomas with low miles, hi headroom, air ride, full size tires, and a straight six diesel.

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Old 02-02-2021, 06:15 PM   #13
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Here is a 6 window Amtran by International. A full size shorty. Why because it will hold a lot of weight so you do not have to watch weight when building, also larger diesels are an option like the DT466, or a cat 3126, so power is respectable. The other advantage is a much heavier duty suspension. In a van cutaway you have independent front suspension with lots of moving parts that wear.



The engine I am putting in this shorty is not a normal choice, but I want a heavy duty tow rig. I am beating up my bus towing heavy stuff too much. So a 6-71 detroit, 250hp with 5 speed manual trans is my plan.


The van cutaways are based on one ton pickups. For a smaller rig as long as you keep wight under control can be ok. The advantage is service anywhere a pickup can be serviced, and several good gas engines are available, makeing service even easier to find. Just too small and light for me.
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Old 02-02-2021, 06:59 PM   #14
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My tiny collins bantam will end up weighing every bit of its 10,000lb gvwr. I don’t know how long I would want to subject a gasoline engine to that over extended periods. 6.8l triton is a great engine in the 2v form I had 396,000 miles on one before it was stolen and totaled. We have made a lot of money on 3v tritons, the oil system and pcv design sludges the oil and kills the cam phasers. You will put 3 sets of cam phasers on one and the problem was the sludge. Lots of AER and ATK long blocks especially in that 5.4. You see plenty of them with a lot of miles, my oil delivery guy has a 2v triton in an E-350 that just got a used long block after almost 600k. That being said I have seen many dead 3v tritons with less than 150k, we probably did one a month last year. We do a lot of fleet work for the Chevron refinery. I will not own a 3v Triton and I am a Ford man. The GM 6.0 suffers from oil starvation to the lifters under repeated heavy use all LS’s do This is especially evident in engines that have the cylinder cut off feature. The lq4 is a great engine but gm cannot make a decent cooling system to save its life, lots of leaks lots of dead water pumps and plenty of blown head gaskets. In fact there is a GM part number for bars leak pellets which were added at dealer level to most Gm vehicles in the early and mid 2000’s. Give me a 7.3 or a LBZ any day.
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
I more or less have my "ultimate" shorty. 5 window thomas with low miles, hi headroom, air ride, full size tires, and a straight six diesel.

That is my next bus
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:09 PM   #16
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All the disadvantages of a full-size bus (heavy, expensive, poor ride quality, bad mpg) but without the space. Sounds like a perfect choice for a Skoolie.
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:22 PM   #17
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That is my next bus
After having several its our favorite.
Rides great thanks to air ride and nice full size tires and compared to the others we've had and its so damn quiet with the highway gearing you can actually have conversations with the passengers at highway speeds without yelling. Gets right around 10mpg, which shocked us as we're used to 6 or 7 with a bus. Sometimes you get lucky and I certainly did getting this one.

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Old 02-02-2021, 07:25 PM   #18
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All the disadvantages of a full-size bus (heavy, expensive, poor ride quality, bad mpg) but without the space. Sounds like a perfect choice for a Skoolie.
I mean if you are crazy enough to build an rv out of an old school bus its a good choice, probably about the size of a 26 foot RV with no worse fuel mileage than a gas unit, probably enhanced durability over a traditional RV, and good serviceability. If you are going to make the jump from a vehicle that is able to be serviced at any auto repair facility to a vehicle that will cost you an arm and a leg thats a good choice. And a pleasant manageable size.
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:29 PM   #19
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I mean if you are crazy enough to build an rv out of an old school bus its a good choice, probably about the size of a 26 foot RV with no worse fuel mileage than a gas unit, probably enhanced durability over a traditional RV, and good serviceability. If you are going to make the jump from a vehicle that is able to be serviced at any auto repair facility to a vehicle that will cost you an arm and a leg thats a good choice. And a pleasant manageable size.
Its about 23 feet bumper to bumper IIRC.
Low hours and miles. Engine's still fairly new looking. Paid less than two grand on public surplus due to the crappy pics and description.
For whatever reason they even ordered it with the highest suspension on a 2wd model so its got 5" blocks up front and the rear air ride unit has special spacers built into it to match.
An odd duck for sure. The 3.42 gearing was added by the school after they got it. It was originally 4.10.


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Old 02-02-2021, 07:30 PM   #20
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I would try and shoehorn a 8v92 in it though. Not a big inline 6 fan. They make more torque down low theoretically but there is a reason why v-8’s are winning the torque wars right now. We did put an eaton m800 on a ford 300 and get almost 12v cummins torque a few years back though.
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