Howdy folks, I'm Art. I hope the year treated you well, it's certainly been a wild ride for me.
I've been lurking on these forums for quite a long time, and decided it's finally to take my dream and make it into a reality. I've always wanted to travel around the US, specifically to all the National Parks, but never had the time or money until recently.
I hope I'm on the right track, as I'm looking to buy a bus in the following weeks, but any advise or input is welcomed. I honestly have no real clue what I'm doing but so far this community has been astoundingly helpful from its existing posts.
So here's my current standing:
Initially I thought the TC1000 platform was my preferred option, and did a fair amount of floorplan variations for it. However, I did not notice the incredibly small wheels, which I doubted would be able to get me over unpaved roads that's seen in some of the more remote national park and national land areas. It's also more rare, and I'd likely not be able to find one locally.
I do want the bus to be able to drive in mild offroad areas (that a sedan could go to) and be capable of driving over even terrain in snow/rain. This is pushing me more to the direction of conventional dog-noses which has a better approach angle & clearance, but please convince me otherwise - I love transit styles.
Right now, I've decided to go with a 1995 International 3800 Conventional, ~30'. Fairly sure I'm going with NC School System
, their website is horrible but they have some good deals, $2750 to $4500 for most of their buses. I'm sticking with the midlands area, away from the mountains and coastal areas, looking to be either Union or Mecklenburg counties.
Engine in most is the DT444E, I've only found a couple so far with the DT466 (that weren't the 3800). Plenty of Cat's & MBD's, which I've ruled out as options. Cummins are kind of my last choice that's acceptable, but I've read enough to narrow down nearly all searches to the DT444/DT466+545.
I would very much prefer a mechanical DT466, but after reading many users here that run on the DT444E platform I think I'd be okay with the electronic version of the DT466 or the DT444. I know this comes at reduced HP and somewhat lower speed with the 545 and 4.44 back end, but I am comfortable rocking 60MPH max down the highway in a massive piece of speeding steel.
As for the length, I simply am not comfortable with a whale tail in cities, enough that I'd be okay sacrificing ~10 feet in lieu of a smaller vehicle, shorter conversion schedule, and better turning abilities. At maximum capacity, it will be two people and a dog on 1000+ mile trips, and 4 people + dog for <=250 mile day trips.
I also have a need to be able to park within two lateral parking spaces for normal vehicles, such as long ways in a walmart parking lot. Both for general parking, and because the area I'll be doing the build is 32' (with that leaving 2' at the front/back of the bus).