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Old 04-18-2020, 05:32 AM   #1
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Heya!

Hey Everyone, I have dreamt of owning and converting a skoolie for many many years and have missed out on a few throughout the years BUT tomorrow I drive 4 hours to view one I'm in love with !
I have some questions/concerns and in need of some expertise so I'll try my best to locate the appropriate area to post those inquiries.

Super excited to be a part of this amazing world of skoolies soon!
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:57 AM   #2
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Don't get blinded by love...keep your emotions out of the business deal. Try to find the bus that checks off the most "must haves and wants" as possible. Then buy it. And don't be afraid to walk away...there are a lot of retired school buses out there! So you don't have to settle for good enough. Avoid to much rust...the rust you can see is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Good Luck!
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Old 04-18-2020, 11:01 AM   #3
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Location: Fraser Valley British Columbia
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Year: 2007
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Chassis: Freightliner
Engine: C7 Cat
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarnYardCamp View Post
Don't get blinded by love...keep your emotions out of the business deal. Try to find the bus that checks off the most "must haves and wants" as possible. Then buy it. And don't be afraid to walk away...there are a lot of retired school buses out there! So you don't have to settle for good enough. Avoid to much rust...the rust you can see is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Good Luck!
That is great advice! Where are you in BC? I am in the Fraser Valley and searched for over a year and a half around BC and Alberta(high miles and rust) before going to the US market. Take your time, don't look at your 4 hr drive as a waste of time if you need to walk away. My Dad used to pay for a mechanical inspection every time he bought a used car and always said if he didn't buy it it was the best money ever spent because it saved him thousands.
Good luck
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Old 04-18-2020, 11:33 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarnYardCamp View Post
Don't get blinded by love...keep your emotions out of the business deal. Try to find the bus that checks off the most "must haves and wants" as possible. Then buy it. And don't be afraid to walk away...there are a lot of retired school buses out there! So you don't have to settle for good enough. Avoid to much rust...the rust you can see is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Good Luck!
I will try my best haha I'm a natural heart-lead shopper but I'm also suuuuuuper frugal so hopefully I can mix the two today.
I'm en route to go see it !
Any MAJOR things you suggest being the first things to check?
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Old 04-18-2020, 11:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscar1 View Post
That is great advice! Where are you in BC? I am in the Fraser Valley and searched for over a year and a half around BC and Alberta(high miles and rust) before going to the US market. Take your time, don't look at your 4 hr drive as a waste of time if you need to walk away. My Dad used to pay for a mechanical inspection every time he bought a used car and always said if he didn't buy it it was the best money ever spent because it saved him thousands.
Good luck
Excellent advice and very true words.
I'm from the Fraser Valley too!
Right now wouldn't be the time to shop accross border but I have considered it.
I have been wanting a skoolie for 10years but only seriously looking for about 3years now. So hard to find ones less than 10grand here... It's crazy.
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Old 04-18-2020, 12:20 PM   #6
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Location: Fraser Valley British Columbia
Posts: 189
Year: 2007
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Chassis: Freightliner
Engine: C7 Cat
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveLostLadyBug View Post
I will try my best haha I'm a natural heart-lead shopper but I'm also suuuuuuper frugal so hopefully I can mix the two today.
I'm en route to go see it !
Any MAJOR things you suggest being the first things to check?
The more details you can provide here of what you are looking at and what your needs are will get you much more specific answers. And remember just because it's cute is not a good enough reason to buy it. Is this going to be your fulltime home or an Rv? Do you have mechanical abilities?
Things you could tell us
What-
Year
Make
Engine
Transmission model
Length
Tires- condition and age (there is a date code stamp on sidewall)
Has it been sitting out of service for a long time
Are any service records availabile
Do you have pictures?
Is there a sales listing we can view?
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Old 04-18-2020, 01:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscar1 View Post
The more details you can provide here of what you are looking at and what your needs are will get you much more specific answers. And remember just because it's cute is not a good enough reason to buy it. Is this going to be your fulltime home or an Rv? Do you have mechanical abilities?
Things you could tell us
What-
Year
Make
Engine
Transmission model
Length
Tires- condition and age (there is a date code stamp on sidewall)
Has it been sitting out of service for a long time
Are any service records availabile
Do you have pictures?
Is there a sales listing we can view?

1973 blue bird , 40', 427 converted to propane, 5 speed , airbrakes , converted and registered as motorhome.
Driven just the other day.
2 new tires , others worn.
Owners have had it 25 years and not used it a ton the last few years.
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Old 04-18-2020, 01:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveLostLadyBug View Post
1973 blue bird , 40', 427 converted to propane, 5 speed , airbrakes , converted and registered as motorhome.
Driven just the other day. 2 new tires , others worn.
Owners have had it 25 years and not used it a ton the last few years.
Sounds like a good bus, but propane can be a limitation depending on your planned use. Propane does not make the same power or mileage, but historically they are cheaper to run. The nice thing is that it is possible to convert it back to gas, but it's a bit of work. Fuel tank, tuning, possibly replace carburetor and distributor. Would likely need to add a mechanical fuel pump if not already equipped. That 427 will run forever if well maintained.
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Old 04-18-2020, 03:48 PM   #9
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Location: Fraser Valley British Columbia
Posts: 189
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner
Engine: C7 Cat
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveLostLadyBug View Post
1973 blue bird , 40', 427 converted to propane, 5 speed , airbrakes , converted and registered as motorhome.
Driven just the other day.
2 new tires , others worn.
Owners have had it 25 years and not used it a ton the last few years.
In no way am I going to try and rain on your parade but I am going to try and be a voice of reason. What are your mechanical skills? Is the idea that this is already a registered motor home appealing because you lack time or skills to build what you want?
4 new tires will cost you $2000-$3000
Can the tires on it even get you safely home?? By 4 hrs away I'm thinking its somewhere in the interior, would you take that on the hills on the Coqahalla?
Brakes? What condition are they? Do you understand air brakes? Do you know what manual slack adjusters are or how to set them?
Driven just the other day?? What does that mean? Across the lawn could mean just driven the other day.
When was it insured and being used last, if it's been sitting in a yard for yrs that can be a problem.
I'm not trying talk you out of this if it works for you but just want you to be aware of what you may encounter with something that's almost 50 yrs old and has been sitting around a long time.
Good luck
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Old 04-18-2020, 08:47 PM   #10
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Suburbs of Winterset, OH
Posts: 115
Year: 2005
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Chassis: FS65
Engine: Mercedes 6.4L
yeah...a 50 year old bus, truck, car...that's ancient... mechanically, the newer stuff is much more reliable and efficient...
On something that old, I'd be concerned about being able to get parts and finding someone who can diagnose problems with out plugging it into a computer...
I really hope you find the right bus so your dream doesn't become a nightmare.
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Old 04-18-2020, 09:49 PM   #11
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Unless you're mechanically inclined or have a good mechanic handy a real old bus could need a bit more finagling than a more modern one. My favorite era of bus for the money are 1990-2000ish.
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Old 04-20-2020, 03:14 PM   #12
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Location: Fraser Valley British Columbia
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Year: 2007
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Chassis: Freightliner
Engine: C7 Cat
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarnYardCamp View Post
yeah...a 50 year old bus, truck, car...that's ancient... mechanically, the newer stuff is much more reliable and efficient...
On something that old, I'd be concerned about being able to get parts and finding someone who can diagnose problems with out plugging it into a computer...
I really hope you find the right bus so your dream doesn't become a nightmare.
Im thinkin someone bought a bus!
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Old 04-20-2020, 04:25 PM   #13
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Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,306
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
As to propane availability and price, they will vary significantly.

If you came to visit me, you would find two places in the county that sell propane and neither is open 24hrs and they both charge $3.29 a gallon.

That price is fairly typical in this region.

I was a little envious when I talked to a gent in Illinois and he was paying closer to $1 a gallon.

I would suspect that an old school propane conversion on a big block Chevy in a full size bus will probably not get much better than 5-6 mpg.

For a local camping rig it may work out well. For cross country travel, I would definitely be looking for a somewhat newer diesel rig.

Good luck.
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Old 04-25-2020, 06:14 PM   #14
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Be wise and find insurance first. That's the #1 problem that gets discussed. It is a pain.
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Old 04-26-2020, 02:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveLostLadyBug View Post
I will try my best haha I'm a natural heart-lead shopper but I'm also suuuuuuper frugal so hopefully I can mix the two today.
I'm en route to go see it !
Any MAJOR things you suggest being the first things to check?
Rust,rust,rust! I have read a lot of posts that deal with rust remediation. It's no fun. It's costly. It's time consuming. Go across the border and buy in one of the states where rust is rare like Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. Public Surplus auction is a great place to find your deal. I got my 1998 Amtrans pusher with zero rust and only 142,000 miles on it from the Gilbert school district in As, for less than 2000 US dollars.
Like the others said, "don't be afraid to walk away."
Dry rotted tires you can replace. All it takes is a bunch of cash. Rust will wear you out.
Good luck.
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