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Old 11-04-2018, 07:50 AM   #21
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How’s this? DT 466 E, unknown transmission.
https://www.usedschoolbusesonline.co...X_9137289.veh#
I mean, its an ok bus. The kind most of us end up with more or less.
That price, though. OUCH. I couldn't see spending more than 3 or 4 grand on it.

Shorties go for a lot less at auction than full size buses.
I've bought 3 running, decent shorties in the last few years and all together spent less than 8 grand.

That bus also has the lowered suspension and low profile tires. They don't ride as nice and don't have the ground clearance of a standard bus. Something to consider. Dirt roads can bog you down real quick in these.

You don't have to spend a small fortune to buy a really nice used bus. These dealers are selling you the same buses you can buy for well under 5 grand.
You're on the right track though. This one's of the right era (pre-2004ish) and its ten grand less than the first one.
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Old 11-04-2018, 07:59 AM   #22
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https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...4&acctid=10422

https://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/au...ew?auc=2217271
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Old 11-04-2018, 08:14 AM   #23
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Thanks for the ongoing help. How does a newbie buy a bus almost 2,000 miles away, hope that it works, and drive it home - all sight unseen? I don’t mind paying dealer markup for the help. But I do see that this one is overpriced. If it has the better 643 tranny, what’s a fair price?
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Old 11-04-2018, 08:27 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by TeacherJoe View Post
Thanks for the ongoing help. How does a newbie buy a bus almost 2,000 miles away, hope that it works, and drive it home - all sight unseen? I don’t mind paying dealer markup for the help. But I do see that this one is overpriced. If it has the better 643 tranny, what’s a fair price?
Joe
I've bought four of them sight unseen. Dealers do it too.

For the price difference you could buy any old used bus and have a brand new engine installed and still come out ahead.
Five grand will buy you the nicest auction bus you can find.

What's your location. Both the links were for buses east of the rockies. TX is a great state to get a bus from.
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Old 11-04-2018, 08:34 AM   #25
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Thanks for the ongoing help. How does a newbie buy a bus almost 2,000 miles away, hope that it works, and drive it home - all sight unseen?
Pretty much, yeah. We were fortunate and found someone who knew buses, and were able to pay him to inspect some buses for us so we knew what we were bidding on. You might be able find a diesel mechanic on Craigslist (search for "mobile mechanic"?) in the area. I had good luck going that route to find someone to do, and teach me to do, some maintenance on our bus. He said he's done some inspections for people from the other side of the country.
It's a risky proposition, sure, but a 12K dealer markup is insane. We were considering a dealer bus, like you, but ended up going with an auction bus and we plowed the savings into our build. Once you get your head around the idea of buying an auction bus you'll get more comfortable with the idea. If you get someone to look at it for you it'll put your mind at ease.
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Old 11-04-2018, 09:46 AM   #26
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That is also very helpful. I can manage a bit of a premium for a dealer, and now I’m getting smarter about what a fair premium might be. I was ready to spend north of $40k on a new Transit dually before considering a skoolie. Adjusting my cost lower is a process. If I like the tranny on the ‘02, maybe $8-10k is a fair offer. It has new tires and dealer experience and convenience has value to me.
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Old 11-04-2018, 10:51 AM   #27
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ECCB has it right.. unless it says otherwise most of these dealers are not refurbishing the busses... they buy them at auction or take them in on trade from schools and put them up for sale.. sure they may change the il, put in a battery or such but generally no major mechanical re-hab is taking place.. (unless stated.. ive sene some for sale that indicate rebuilt engines, transmissions etc)...


most auctions, individuals, and dealers (that have more reasonable prices) will truthfully answer questions.. auction sites have phone numbers, email links , etc.. sometimes you get lucky and call an umber and obtain service history if the school still has it.. ive seen more than once, questions posted at the bottom of the page and issues were reported..



if you buy a bus and it breaks... lets do some math..



you buy a $20,000 bus from said dealer (one that as EC notes is likely a 3 or 4k bus on govedeals or publicsurplus)... you are toolin down the road and something happens to it..



1. usually you can limp off the highway... a buzzer goes off, guages start looking wierd, the engine starts sounding bad, etc...



2. you get as much info as you can and you post it here or if you have made friends here prior to going after your bus then you call and ask what may be wrong.


3. truckdown.com is your friend, mobile service units can fix quite a few things.. yeah they cost a little.. but remember you just spent 16k ess than you wouldove at said crazy-price dealer...


4. if you break down in a dealer bus.. chances are the dealer may give you suggestions over the phone.. if you are lucky they might help out if you are nearby.. but to them its an as-is where-is sale.. only the newest used busses come with any type of "warranty"..





believe me I went through this same progression you are going through... my first endeavor "back" into busses after my first one sat for a few years.. (psychological reasons).. and then was destroyed, I first then test drove a pretty much brande new short IC BE school bus... it was a couple years old but was a demonstrator and I think it was 50K or something like that.. (I was looking at it to use in my business)sure it was nice but what stopped me from moving forward was it broke down on my test drive... the DPF tossed an error and shut the bus down.. brand new..



I ended up buying a dealer bus.. and probably paid a little more than what I shouldve but I did talk em down and make them throw in a bunch of things... its been a great bus...



if you spend less up front and something isnt the way you want it.. then you have lots of extra $$ you can toss at it to update / upgrade / repair / and such...



my redbyrd was an $1800 bus at auction.. sure I blew the transmisison 9000 miles later.. but even with my custom trans upgrade, updating it's A/C, a couple tires, kingpins, computer scan tools I use on it, LED lighting.. im still at quite a bit less $$ than the bus in the link posted.. and I have a heck of a roadtrip cruiser..

-Christopher
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Old 11-04-2018, 12:34 PM   #28
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I just joined an auction site. Down the rabbit hole I go! You guys are cool. Thanks.

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Old 11-06-2018, 06:24 PM   #29
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So on the Public Surplus site I see five or six six-window buses. 2001 or so International with T444E and Allison 2000, miles ranging from 140k to over 200k.
Would it be reasonable for me to contact a mobile mechanic (they’re in Austin,TX) to inspect them for me? All are indicated as having run when taken out of service, but with bad batteries. Would a local person buy it for me, make it road worthy and hold it for my pickup?

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Old 11-06-2018, 07:57 PM   #30
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So on the Public Surplus site I see five or six six-window buses. 2001 or so International with T444E and Allison 2000, miles ranging from 140k to over 200k.
Would it be reasonable for me to contact a mobile mechanic (they’re in Austin,TX) to inspect them for me? All are indicated as having run when taken out of service, but with bad batteries. Would a local person buy it for me, make it road worthy and hold it for my pickup?

Joe
You may get lucky and someone from the forum may be able to look em over for you.
Try calling the school selling the buses and ask if you can speak to someone about the maintenance history. Sometimes you can talk directly to the guys and gals that maintain the buses.
You could probably buy the whole lot of them and still have change left over!
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Old 11-06-2018, 11:35 PM   #31
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It looks ok on surface, but on windshield it is 27500 and then price is 16K. I hope your negotiating skills are amazing or you have extra cash for it. It's not cheap.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:37 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeacherJoe View Post
So on the Public Surplus site I see five or six six-window buses. 2001 or so International with T444E and Allison 2000, miles ranging from 140k to over 200k.
Would it be reasonable for me to contact a mobile mechanic (they’re in Austin,TX) to inspect them for me? All are indicated as having run when taken out of service, but with bad batteries. Would a local person buy it for me, make it road worthy and hold it for my pickup?

Joe

I think it would be reasonable to contact a mobile mechanic. We had one do some maintenance on our bus and he said he'd done inspections for out of state potential buyers. Also, no reason not to put in a call to the bus barn of the school selling the buses.
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:18 AM   #33
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I dont think anyone would buy it for you and then fixt / hold it..



however I think calling and talking to mobile mechanics is defimitely a possibility and having them inspect the units you are interested in..



if you choose to buy one, then you go, pick it up and have a a shop do a full PM on it..



most all truck shops have a full service that usually includes, oil and trans fluid change, coolant flush, fill, and any additives, coolant filter, trans filter, fuel filter, air filter, water separator, full lube of the chassis, rear end fluid change, and they imspect your brakes for you... belts and hoses usually are not included however they would be inspected.. it will on average run you between $1200 - $1400. and takes a whole day normally.. anything major they fimd wrong you can have repaired if necessary..



austin TX is a big city so there are all kinds of service shops.. and also if you make a trip of it, its a fun city to spend a couple days in.



I also second calling the phopne numbers on the auction listing and talking to them, you can often ask questions right on the site as well that they will answer


-Chjristopher
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Old 11-11-2018, 06:09 AM   #34
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I will be looking into a mobile mechanic in Austin, TX. There are some good auctions there and it seems some experience with doing this. I’ll be calling Fleet Management Services based on recommendations. I’m also in touch with Skoolie Homes in TN. Seem like real nice folks, and they help find a bus. Meanwhile here are two interesting eBay links:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2008-IC-Int...-/142970305344

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2013-Freigh...-/113355772321

Joe
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Old 11-14-2018, 06:51 AM   #35
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I think I may go the auction route. I talked to a reputable diesel shop who will inspect and service a bus, as well as a nice lady in the Austin, TX school district who will provide info and support. What a leap for me! I started off wanting to buy a new Ford Transit.

Here’s a bus I like. Is 227k miles and 13.5k hours too high?
#2301 1999 International AmTran T444E Diesel Auto Hydraulic Brakes 6 Row@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL

Joe
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Old 11-14-2018, 07:22 AM   #36
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I think I may go the auction route. I talked to a reputable diesel shop who will inspect and service a bus, as well as a nice lady in the Austin, TX school district who will provide info and support. What a leap for me! I started off wanting to buy a new Ford Transit.

Here’s a bus I like. Is 227k miles and 13.5k hours too high?
#2301 1999 International AmTran T444E Diesel Auto Hydraulic Brakes 6 Row@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL

Joe
For a 444E, I'd say pass with that amount of miles/hours. Look for less than 200k and/or less than 10k hours.
That dealer is probably the most expensive place to buy a used school bus. They probably paid $1500-$2500 for that bus.
BTW- its 277k, not 227k. By the time its got that kind of mileage a 444E is usually pretty tired.
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Old 11-14-2018, 07:28 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeacherJoe View Post
I think I may go the auction route. I talked to a reputable diesel shop who will inspect and service a bus, as well as a nice lady in the Austin, TX school district who will provide info and support. What a leap for me! I started off wanting to buy a new Ford Transit.

Here’s a bus I like. Is 227k miles and 13.5k hours too high?
#2301 1999 International AmTran T444E Diesel Auto Hydraulic Brakes 6 Row@ BGA School Buses, Inc. Hudson, FL

Joe

those guys are notorious for high prices.. thats also a lot of miles and hours on a T444E.. In a shortie its likely an AT545 trans.. one of my busses i got from them.. I haggled with them and got some extras.. but I payed more than i wouldve at auction (I wanted a more classic bus)..



that amtran is likely one that would go for 1500-2000 at auction. the stepwell rust shows it was likely a northern unit. I would want to see the undersides of that one for sure..


as for auctions, be patient.. bid low and often.. see where a the prices go and then determine if you want to stay in. dont set a high proxy bid as people will bid you up.. when I won whats now my RedByrd I was just playing.. I had a couple bids in and they werent high.. if I lost I lost.. I was learning how the system works..



I dont fault anyone for going to a dealer, but I would actually go and not just look online.. my DEV bus that I got from BGA.. I needed a bus fairly quick for a work project I was doing... so I needed to make my move.. I didnt have time to learn auctions and such.. so I paid more than I would have.. I also had them paint it (their paint guy is really good.. but you $$) - at the time they seemed recent into painting so I got a good deal on that part because they didnt necessarily know how to price.. not sure what they charge now.



most dealers are just like used car dealers.. if your bus dies on the way home they may help you find a service shop or if they know someone in the area you might get a decent rate.. but they arent likely to just fix it for you unless you have just left their lot, then some dealers are nice and help you out.



auctions you can often call a number or post questions to ask about the conditions or specifics ..


so i have 3 busses.. 1 - dealer, 2 - auction,3 - individual. the busses are all equal in condition for their ages.. the prices were different comparitively..



I think I mentioned before my progression went from i was going to buy a discounted nearly brand new IC shortie from a dealer.. it died on the test drive.. so I progressed.. from a $50,000 bus to a $5000 bus.. thats a lot of $$ I can replace parts with / upgrade etc.. I dont have that much in my 3 busses combined even with all of the mechanical upgrades ive done..



again take it slow.. dont be in a hurry and you'll learn and find the right bus or van.


AND you may decide after all that a brand new transit is the way to go.. only you can make that decision

-Christopher
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:08 AM   #38
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Pretty much, yeah. We were fortunate and found someone who knew buses, and were able to pay him to inspect some buses for us so we knew what we were bidding on. You might be able find a diesel mechanic on Craigslist (search for "mobile mechanic"?) in the area. I had good luck going that route to find someone to do, and teach me to do, some maintenance on our bus. He said he's done some inspections for people from the other side of the country.
It's a risky proposition, sure, but a 12K dealer markup is insane. We were considering a dealer bus, like you, but ended up going with an auction bus and we plowed the savings into our build. Once you get your head around the idea of buying an auction bus you'll get more comfortable with the idea. If you get someone to look at it for you it'll put your mind at ease.
My plan is get a mobile mechanic before I buy anything that is a long distance from me. Great idea!!!!
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Old 11-26-2018, 11:38 AM   #39
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How’s this?

2009 Thomas C2 (I know, early EPA)
Cummins 6.7
Allison 2500
5.13 gears
165k miles
Pretty clean undercarriage

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Old 11-26-2018, 12:18 PM   #40
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the cummins 6.7 did a much better job of handling the EPA regs than did the CAT or MBE stuff often found the C2 busses.. (theres a reason the only diesel being sold in school busses pretty much today is a 6.7)..


the Safe-t-liner C2. admittedly its a bus I love the look of.. while im typically into old classics.. i love the modern look of that C2.. other than some oif the missteps with the CAT engines, the C2 had some issues from time to time with its smart-switch electrical panels.. I dont know alot about them, however it makes it a bit more difficult to repurpose the switches on the dash for conversion-related items..



by 2009 that system had been in use for quite some time so could be a good one..



a school letting ab us go in less than 10 years? a little dubious on that one.. other thing is to check for body panel rust around the wheel wells and the back of the bus.. this wont show up in under-carriage pics.. i was at a bus junkyard this weekend and noted there was a 08 C2 there which was amazingly clean inside the cabin (looked brand new). buit a walk around showed it was rusting from the inside out around its walls.. (the story ther scrapyard gave is it failed inspection so was sold to an individual who harvested its Cummins drivetrain then scrapped the body)..


you can definitely do worse than a 6.7 in an emissions bus.. in that year you may very well be able to open up the 6th gear on that allison transmission..
-Christopher
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