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Old 03-04-2021, 01:08 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2021
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Hello from Northwest Washington.

I guess this is the place for my first post. I have no bus yet. I saw my first Skoolie in 1978. it was a shorty painted with flowers and such, a woman named Alice lived there. She was the quintessential hippie in a bus. I thought this was the coolest thing ever.
Fast forward to now, I am planning a trip to Las Vegas Bus Sales to view some Thomas 31' busses from 2007. They have the Cat C7 and Allison 5 speed gearboxes.
I like the length and Thomas makes a good bus. plus these buses have spent their lives in Nevada so potentially little rust. I am not sure about the Cat C7. I am aware of the HEUI situation, but should I avoid Cat?
Can anyone offer advice or have experience with Las Vegas Bus Sales?
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Old 03-04-2021, 04:33 PM   #2
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Location: Near Flagstaff AZ
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I've had positive experiences with LV Bus Sales and was impressed with their stock and their large diesel repair shop. They're apparently related to NW Bus Sales up in your neck of the woods, but I found the prices at the LV location to be much better...and they are pretty reasonable. You'll pay more at a dealer, of course, but that does come with some benefits. At least two other people here have bought from them recently.

Like any diesel...well almost any...there are fans and haters. But the C7 is a solid engine and, if well maintained, should be just fine.
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Old 03-04-2021, 10:52 PM   #3
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Auburn, WA
Posts: 424
Year: 2000
Coachwork: IC / Amtran
Chassis: 3000 / 33' Flat Nose
Engine: IC T444E / Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 72 Kids / 48 Adults
Hi and welcome. I'm in Auburn, WA., so from a worldly perspective, we're like next door neighbors.

Per Las Vegas Bus Sales, they are a sister company to NW Bus Sales in Federal Way, WA..

As with any dealer, you'll pay a premium. According to other posts about these two companies and other bus dealers, a lot of times they get their buses from auctions. If they can do it, so can you.

I got my bus locally from a Catholic HS. It was originally part of the Seattle SD fleet. It's lived it's whole life between Seattle and Auburn. No rust!

Per the Cat engines, I have no idea.

Besides the engine, the tranny is very important. Five (5) speed minimum for lower cruising RPMs, higher mpg and tighter power band when climbing. Some electronic trannies have a 6th gear, but it is turned off in the computer. If it does have a 6th, you should be able to have it turned on.

My mistake when buying was not taking it on the freeway and seeing the gearing was too low. The other thing was I wasn't able to test the tranny for downshifting. Now, I'm dealing with this issue.

Per buying a southern warm weather area bus, I think if you stick to buses on the western side of the Cascades and east of the ocean (salt) (i.e., I5 corridor) you might find a great bus in WA or OR. Even if you paid a bit more, not having to fly to Vegas (unless you're using the skoolie shopping as a covert gambling trip), hotels, trip permits, potential problems during a 1,000 mile drive and diesel fuel costs could really make up for a higher an WA / OR bus.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!
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Old 03-04-2021, 11:10 PM   #4
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Simplicity makes good points...but that 1000 mile trip makes for a good shake-down trip. We bought two buses from Whidbey Island last year, and drove them back to AZ. That long trip was good for helping to identify issues.

You'll definitely have cheaper options through an auction...and we regularly buy through auction sites...so I'm a fan. But being able to walk through 30-40 buses at a dealer, like Las Vegas Bus Sales, and look at tires and ceiling height and dents and condition...picking the one you want...is nice, too. I think they put new batteries in them and I've seen buses there which still have the "new tire" mold nubs on them. That extra cost may be worth the expense. Only you know your situation...
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Old 03-04-2021, 11:23 PM   #5
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Auburn, WA
Posts: 424
Year: 2000
Coachwork: IC / Amtran
Chassis: 3000 / 33' Flat Nose
Engine: IC T444E / Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 72 Kids / 48 Adults
Quote:
Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post
Simplicity makes good points...but that 1000 mile trip makes for a good shake-down trip. We bought two buses from Whidbey Island last year, and drove them back to AZ. That long trip was good for helping to identify issues.


If the OP has the skills and or $$ to deal with potential trip issues, then I agree it's a good shakedown trip. I don't have enough of either. Now, if Ross was with me, different story.

Ross, next time you're up this way, let me know. Be good to meet you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post

You'll definitely have cheaper options through an auction...and we regularly buy through auction sites...so I'm a fan. But being able to walk through 30-40 buses at a dealer, like Las Vegas Bus Sales, and look at tires and ceiling height and dents and condition...picking the one you want...is nice, too. I think they put new batteries in them and I've seen buses there which still have the "new tire" mold nubs on them. That extra cost may be worth the expense. Only you know your situation...


Yes, the NW Bus facilities and such are very professional and very clean. They sales crew present themselves professionally. They too have a lot of buses. Maybe, instead of going to Vegas Bus Sales, tour the buses at NW Bus to see the different styles, ceiling heights, etc?

I'm not sure what kind of warranties come with their buses, yet it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't have their mechanics go through and take care of obvious issues to cover themselves after the sale. I also wonder if you bought a bus from Vegas bus sales if any warranty work could be done at NW Bus?? Worth asking.
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Old 03-05-2021, 05:25 AM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 488
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas x2
Chassis: HDX/MVP ER
Engine: CAT 3126 x2
In my opinion, Pre 2007 C7s are the best engine to get in a bus from 2003 to 2007. From what I've researched, they had no additional emissions controls added in that time frame and are largely unchanged from the 3126, of which I own two and I love them.

However in 2007 Cat changed the fuel system over to common rail, bolted on their own version of aftertreatment and completely ruined the engine. Injectors have changed design over 6 times and fail frequently for no good reason. The aftertreatment system including the DPF and how it self cleans the DPF (ARD Head) are very prone to trouble and lock down the engine when it does, requiring dealer repair. It's so bad, it's why Caterpillar stopped selling on highway engines.

If it has a DPF, run away. Otherwise, it could be a very good bus.
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Old 03-05-2021, 11:34 AM   #7
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Thank you for the reply. I will be in LV monday. I am in no real hurry, which is good. No pressure, so if doesn't feel right, ill keep looking.
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