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Old 04-03-2017, 03:48 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Ft. Polk, LA
Posts: 1
Question The Purchase: How do I make sure I don't screw myself over?

Hey there team.

I'm new to the skoolie world. First of all, there are so many awesome looking builds out there. I've been intensely reading forums and articles and scouring auction sites (ebay, craiglist, bookoo, govdeals, etc) looking for something to build for myself.

However, I need help with one thing; how do I make sure I don't get screwed over when I take the bus purchase leap for a conversion project? Do I get a mechanic to take a look? Do I only buy from certain sites or a bus "dealer"? Are there certain bus makes/models/engines that I should stay away from?

I'll outline my goals for the conversion project to give everyone an idea of where I'm going.

1) Space for a single individual + cat. One bed, a couch with some under-cushion storage, maybe fold-able desk space and chair, a little sink and stove set-up, and possibly even a small bathroom.

2) I think I can make this work with a shorter school bus along the lines of a Ford E350.

3) Currently military (getting out in about 3 months) in Ft. Polk, Louisiana. I'm willing to go a state or two over in any direction for the right find, but don't want to waste unnecessary time and resources (b/c that's more money that could be put into the build.)

Obviously I know the simple things like don't buy a rust-bucket and make sure it drives, but how do I go about making sure I am purchasing a mechanically sound foundation for a new "home"?

Thanks in advance for your help, skoolie vets.

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Old 04-03-2017, 05:33 PM   #2
Bus Geek
EastCoastCB's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,673
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Don't buy any diesel ford after about 2003. If its the 6.0 RUN AWAY FAST. Just google "6.0 diesel nightmares". Unless you're TOTALLY devoted to Ford in a blind way, or have extremely deep pockets for lots of mechanical work, don't buy the 6.0's.
Wait till you find a 7.3 or just get a chevy.
Wear A Mask- Stop the Spread!
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Old 04-03-2017, 05:40 PM   #3
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Beech Grove, IN
Posts: 57
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 35
If you aren't comfortable checking out the mechanical parts of the bus and have access to someone who is, definitely take them with you to check it out. Being a Ford guy I like the E350, but the diesels are difficult to get access to the top of the motor, so make sure to get one in good condition. The 6.0 has a bad history, so unless you budget in the upgrades needed probably stay away from them. Get service records if possible.

The E350 is a good starting point from the aspect of insurance and registration from what I have been reading because it is based on a van chassis, so you could possibly insure it as a van which in most cases is easier than a bus.

I wouldn't rule out the conventional and front engine short buses. They are easier to get to the drivetrain for any issues that do pop up.
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Old 04-03-2017, 05:52 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Picton,Ont, Can.
Posts: 1,956
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 72
The degree of how much you get taken to the cleaners depends solely on your knowledge or if you can afford to pay an expert to check it out go ahead. Nobody can tell you every little detail so no guarantees I would imagine.
Don't but without driving it and testing all the necessaries. You'll see how it starts cold and then warms up to normal then drive the thing like you stole it. If it breaks, don't buy it.

Increase your knowledge about these vehicles as much as you can. They are not small and powerless. They are big and can be heavy so you better enjoy the feel of it from behind the wheel if you are going to seriously keep it or do a conversion to live in etc.

This way you'll enjoy it more and not have anyone to blame but yourself if it's a lemon
Question everything!
BlackJohn is offline   Reply With Quote

bus purchase, buy bus, first bus, newbie

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