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Old 05-11-2022, 10:19 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 6
Buying midsize from dealer advice

Hello everyone. First time poster, but been reading a lot here for the past few years. I am finally at a point where I am starting to shop for our first bus to convert. I have decided on a midsize truck chassis style, no van style. I wanted to post my wish list of specs here and see if anyone had any suggestions or opinions. I am leaning towards buying from a dealer, AAA Bus in Arizona specifically, or maybe Midwest transit. The auctions just make me too nervous I am buying a lemon, and I donít have the time or money to travel all over to inspect them first. I am willing to spend a few thousand more to make sure I am starting out with a rock solid platform.

Below is the list of things I am looking for. I welcome any suggestions or alternate options you may have in mind.

Chassis: Truck style short or mid-sized bus. I am thinking conventional. I would really like a RE, but they do not seem to make them less than 31Ft. I like the look and extra interior space of a flat FE, but have seen the noise and heat is a real problem on long drives.

Length: We are looking for a midsize or short bus(not van style). Under 30 Feet, preferably close to 25Ft. From my research I think this means between a 6 and 8 windowed bus? We have tried floor plans for the shortest 4 window buses and they are just too small. I think 6 windows would be the minimum we need.

Inside Height: As high as possible, from my research this means about 77 inches from the floor to the center of the ceiling. I am 6'3" and would like to avoid doing a roof raise.

Engine: Would love to get one with a DT466, DT466E or Cummins 8.3.

Transmission: Alison 2000 series or MD3060 preferred. Or any trustworthy Allison transmission that can reach highway speeds.

Doors: Would prefer a bus with a wheelchair lift door. Plan to remove the lift so it does not need to be operational. Wheelchair door is a strong preference, but not a requirement.

A/C: Would like to have a functional factory A/C for driving, but not a requirement. Interest on others thoughts on this, as I see a lot of people remove them during conversion videos.

Other: The Bus will be used for a lot of highway driving and we will be on the move a lot, so I would like one with enough power to sustain highway speeds(70MPH ish). I know some of the buses do not have the gearing for such speeds, or are factory locked at lower speeds. From my research the engine and transmissions I have listed above should be able to reach higher speeds, looking for some insight on this. I am mainly just not looking for something that will be capped at 55-65MPH.

I sent the list above to AAA Bus and they said they get buses that meet most of my specs above and they sell them for between $9,000 - $12,000 depending on mileage, tire condition, etc. All of the buses they sell are mostly rust free and have been thoroughly checked out and fixed up if needed.
I am wondering peoples thoughts on this price range and if it is reasonable. I have looked at auctions and I am having trouble finding buses that meet majority of my specifications to compare to.

I welcome and greatly appreciate anyone's feedback and advice! Thank you!

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Old 05-11-2022, 11:00 PM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 763
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
I had all the same wants originally, but after shopping around for a while, i knew i had to make some compromises. I will say, i really love my front engine for the handling and capability. im 6ft1in and i have a standard height TC2000 (6'2). Im not roof raising as i dont like the look or complexity of them. I would have prefered the 3 inch higher version, but most of my use will be as a camper. I drive, i sit and work. My hallway to my bed is only like 10ft, so i'm just going to duck like its a van. I pretend its a van because it drives like a van and parks like van-ish. I checked bluebirds website and they only had 3 sister buses in the year of mine that had roof raises (they were gov buses). So not to say they exist, but if i went older, i might loose tranny or air ride, etc.



Front engine isnt soo bad. It can be sound deadened. It can be insulated from heat. Also, for a shorty, dont discount the 5.9 cummins in 24v or 12v. Its got plenty of power when paired with a good transmission. Mine is at 225hp. For about $300 i can get it to 300hp (my summer project). 300hp was a dodge variant program and it should be plenty reliable at that. As it sits now, i can gain speed up passes and big bridges(florida). its a pretty efficient power plant and very easy to work on. I do have 6th unlocked on it and cruises at 70, but 65 is a bit more easy going for me. With 5th, i would redline at 67mph.


That said, you can check out my build thread for my compromises.
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/b...tml#post472075



Also, AAABus has a very close one to mine, that they have marked incorrectly with an AT545 tranny. (Verified by VIN and Serial). It has an allison 2000 which might be preferable to the MD3060 i have. Its good as it comes, but its simpler electronically, can be built stonger, and has lots of aftermarket support.
https://www.aaabussales.com/11335.html


So you obviously know Colorado buses and Arizona buses are very nice. Colorado ones have a retarder and snow chains often. I have also heard Rocky Mountain Bus is good as well. They are by Colorado Springs.
At this point, i believe there can still be deals to be had on craigslist or Facebook, but most of the shortys seem to be priced as high as a dealer like AAABUS. Since you know theres a price for comfort, i think its a good plan to buy from a dealer. Also post your location, there are some decent buses on the east coast and left coast that members are aware of.


Theres a guy here Ross, that has a short rear engine Gillig for sale as well if you can give up a bit of ground clearance to get a rear engine.
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Old 05-11-2022, 11:03 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: topeka kansas
Posts: 1,787
Year: 1954
Coachwork: wayne
Chassis: old f500- new 2005 f-450
Engine: cummins 12 valve
Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
from a dealer

First and foremost --- You are the one that has to feel good about the deal.

nobody else. Just you.

That being said... if you are buying from a dealer You should be able to go for test drive -- you might not be able to drive it, but I would think you would be able to be sitting in it for the drive...

I paid a lot for a very short 1994 tc2000 .... It was not a deal by any means... but It fit the bill of requirements.

william
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Old 05-12-2022, 07:25 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 6
Thank you, I'll add that engine to my list. I'll look at Rocky Mountain, my brother lives there and knows his way around a diesel, so that may be perfect place to buy from. I'll definitely checkout your build thread. Thanks for the response!

I updated my location. I'll look at that rear engine for sale. Thank you!
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Old 05-12-2022, 07:28 AM   #5
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Location: Cleveland, Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magnakansas View Post
First and foremost --- You are the one that has to feel good about the deal.

nobody else. Just you.

That being said... if you are buying from a dealer You should be able to go for test drive -- you might not be able to drive it, but I would think you would be able to be sitting in it for the drive...

I paid a lot for a very short 1994 tc2000 .... It was not a deal by any means... but It fit the bill of requirements.

william
Yeah Tony at AAA said buying a bus from him is minimum 3 hour experience and will teach me how to do pre trip inspection and go on a long test drive on all kinds of roads. He seemed to be really passionate about selling for skoolie conversions and have me a lot of confidence in buying from him.
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