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Old 02-06-2017, 01:40 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,711
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
How long did it take you to find your bus?

So, I've bid on two auction buses and I've lost two auction bids. The batting average isn't exactly stellar. For those that have followed my post thus far, this is old news. For the rest, ... I've looked at 2 private buses as well. One started and purred like a kitten but was a rust bucket. The second also started and purred like a kitten. It was NOT a rust bucket but it had a paper odometer. The electronic dash said 26k miles B.S. There was a paper label that said 94k miles. Fine and dandy but was the odometer out for 200k in between? Found the VIN online and it came with a warning that the tranny needs repaired. Called the county it came from and the guy couldn't figure out why it had the tranny note. Came in in Aug and passed inspection. In Oct it was excessed and the note was added. Was the tranny note added just to justify getting rid of a bus with only 84k miles? Or was it excessed before the tranny fell out of it? It drove fine at 40mph.

Anywho, still looking for a 90 pax (15 row) bus. Preferably with a midship wheelchair door. FE or RE. With something bigger than a 5.9L.

How many buses/bids did you make before buying your bus?
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Old 02-06-2017, 06:51 PM   #2
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Location: Weeki Wachee, FL
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Year: 1997
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I bought the 6th bus I looked at, but I ruled out a lot of buses without having to look at them. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted, and asked a lot of questions before making a drive. The first five had obvious major issues that the owner either tried to hide or outright lied about.
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Old 02-06-2017, 07:26 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,372
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
Took me a month to find it and a year to buy it
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Old 02-06-2017, 07:44 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Danglebury, Tejas
Posts: 310
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH 3800
Engine: Navistar DT466E
Rated Cap: 72 passenger
I looked at 7 before I found Johnson.

Odd confession: the bus I WANTED (based on the listing) I just couldnt connect with. Please understand that my background is in physics, engineering, and law, so "connecting" is not something I had ever considered. But... I just didnt feel the "love". So I walked away from that one... only to find Johnson parked at the other end of the lot.

Love at first sight! I bought it in a bidding war for $5k plus. People called me crazy, and I was afraid they were right.

When I got the bus home and examined the service records, i found the NEW ENGINE had 3500 miles on it. And the NEW TRANSMISSION had 35k on it.

Suddenly I became a believer.

As much of a total non-emotional geek as I am, I do (sorta) believe that busses choose their owners. Yeah, that sounds like a bunch of hippie "wooo", but its true.

Listen to the inner voice in your head. Walk away from anything that just fails to "speak" to you. Busses are like women: they come and go, but eventually one will capture your heart and mind.

And then you are in SERIOUS trouble.
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Old 02-06-2017, 07:53 PM   #5
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Location: hills of sw virginia
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Year: 1996
Chassis: thomas
Engine: 8.3 cummins
Rated Cap: 11 window
took a year and only by chance. the bus I was going to buy was sold out from under me, my bus came up on the search after I got home.
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Old 02-06-2017, 07:54 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
My first bus was free for the taking. Gas Thomas. Total dog. Not a good bus for me.
My next was the 92 I'm working on now. Bought sight unseen on GovDeals. Only a couple potato vision pics to go from. Got a great deal. Was watching for several months and when it popped up, I jumped on it.

The bus I just bough in CO was the result of bidding on dozens of shorties till I finally won one for what I was willing to spend.
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Old 02-06-2017, 07:54 PM   #7
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,372
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
Even tried passing mine along to others on the board...
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f14/im...ong-11259.html

Then I bought it a year later
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f13/im...now-14306.html
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Old 02-06-2017, 07:58 PM   #8
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: SE Florida
Posts: 1,098
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 65 pax
After 2 months of searching, I bought one off of eBay and after paying for it, the deal fell through. I personally think the dude did not get what he wanted for the bus and lied when he told me that the bus had been vandalized (on a locked in storage facility ) He paid me back all of my money. And it turned out to be a blessing in disguise...

Because the 2nd bus I fell in love with was 2000 miles closer, newer and $800 less money and in far better condition! Woot!!! I got her here: Public Surplus: Auction #1682539
The deal went through very easily, the bus depot supervisor answered tons of my questions while I was awaiting the auction to be over, and I won! And I am super happy with my bus!

Sandi
www.thismidwifetravels.com
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Old 02-08-2017, 11:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyCoyote View Post
I looked at 7 before I found Johnson.

Odd confession: the bus I WANTED (based on the listing) I just couldnt connect with. Please understand that my background is in physics, engineering, and law, so "connecting" is not something I had ever considered. But... I just didnt feel the "love". ....Suddenly I became a believer.

As much of a total non-emotional geek as I am, I do (sorta) believe that busses choose their owners. Yeah, that sounds like a bunch of hippie "wooo", but its true.

Listen to the inner voice in your head. Walk away from anything that just fails to "speak" to you. Busses are like women: they come and go, but eventually one will capture your heart and mind.

And then you are in SERIOUS trouble.
I am just in the researching stages...realistically, it will be at least a year before my wife and I work through other financial priorities (e.g. the kid's college, new roof on our house, etc) before we pull the trigger on a skoolie.

However, can totally relate to the above sentiment, as I went through the same when I bought my VW bus about 11 years ago. Traveled about 250 miles to Indiana to look at a bus. bus was VERY solid from a rust standpoint (came from AZ, and I lived in Michigan...you think skoolies are bad when it comes to rust ...try finding a rust free VW bus in the Midwest that isn't swiss cheese). Had some mechanical issues, but was otherwise solid. But, it just wasn't 'speaking' to me. Ended up buying one in MN sight unseen (although did have a samba forum member look at it for me). Original owner had taken delivery of it in Germany, and had all of those chatchki (sp) RV stickers from every country she visited stuck on the perimeter of the headliner, plus a bunch from Canada. Yeah, this bus had good Karma. I still have it 12 years later.

BTW... I'm more of a numbers guy too, and am typically willing to travel up to 250 miles to look at a vehicle, and willing to pass if it doesn't pass muster. I learned this lesson a long time ago when i bought a '63 caddy convert from NH...but that is another story for another time, and would probably take at least two beers to regale the full tale...
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Old 02-10-2017, 07:03 AM   #10
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,711
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhobryan View Post
I am just in the researching stages...realistically, it will be at least a year before my wife and I work through other financial priorities (e.g. the kid's college, new roof on our house, etc) before we pull the trigger on a skoolie.

However, can totally relate to the above sentiment, as I went through the same when I bought my VW bus about 11 years ago. Traveled about 250 miles to Indiana to look at a bus. bus was VERY solid from a rust standpoint (came from AZ, and I lived in Michigan...you think skoolies are bad when it comes to rust ...try finding a rust free VW bus in the Midwest that isn't swiss cheese). Had some mechanical issues, but was otherwise solid. But, it just wasn't 'speaking' to me. Ended up buying one in MN sight unseen (although did have a samba forum member look at it for me). Original owner had taken delivery of it in Germany, and had all of those chatchki (sp) RV stickers from every country she visited stuck on the perimeter of the headliner, plus a bunch from Canada. Yeah, this bus had good Karma. I still have it 12 years later.

BTW... I'm more of a numbers guy too, and am typically willing to travel up to 250 miles to look at a vehicle, and willing to pass if it doesn't pass muster. I learned this lesson a long time ago when i bought a '63 caddy convert from NH...but that is another story for another time, and would probably take at least two beers to regale the full tale...
250 miles one way is a bit on the long side. 250 round trip is no problem. If it's one way, there had better be something worthwhile there. Beach, mountain, city I've never been to, etc. Something to make an overnight worth while. I'll go a lot further (1,000+) to buy a bus if I have a people that can look at it for me.
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Old 02-10-2017, 10:45 AM   #11
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Beech Grove, IN
Posts: 56
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 35
I visited a local dealer once to get a feel for the size of bus I wanted to focus in on and looked for around 3 months online while I accumulated some cash.

I had planned on going as high as $5k to get a rust free 6 window conventional with air ride and a DT466, and found some that looked good in Florida, but the 1100 mile trip was going to involve some coordination. While browsing around I stumbled on a 6 window in Covington, TN with springs and a T444e for $2500 that just grabbed me for some reason. My wife and I drove down the next day and bought it.
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Old 02-10-2017, 07:12 PM   #12
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Quinter, Kansas - Soon South Dakota!
Posts: 1,434
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: 3208 CAT/MT643 tranny
Rated Cap: 87
Took us THREE years of searching before we found Heavy Fuel in Wasco CA. Talked to the mechanic super. and found out the engine was swapped out two years prior with only 30K miles on it. Paid $2K cash with the on-line auction. We were the ONLY bidders due to the bus being restricted to only out-of-state bidders could win the bus. Flew out, met a long time friend, had some fun, got the bus, and drove her home in 1600 miles/three days IIRC... Heck, the thread is here somewhere..... Hope this helps.....

M
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Old 02-11-2017, 01:13 AM   #13
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,195
I really do not think you will find a bus with the spe'c's you want in a yellow bus. Most lift equipped buses are NOT set up for trip work. Most are spe'c'ed for to/from route work and rarely see speeds in excess of 35 MPH. As a consequence rarely will you see anything more than about 210 HP in lift equipped bus.

I am not saying there aren't some out there. It is just that lift equipped Type 'D' buses are pretty uncommon.

Having said that, I have seen a couple in the last couple of years. One was an IC RE that was in the Tacoma, WA school district fleet. That school district contracts the majority of the transportation needs but reserves all of the special needs transportation for their in house transportation department. Their fleet is almost 100% buses that are less than full size. They had two IC RE buses in the fleet. One that did and one that did not have a lift. As to when the lift equipped bus might show up in used inventory somewhere I have no idea.

The second bus was a Blue Bird Q-bus 102"x40' lift equipped bus with a Cummins ISC that sold last fall at the Chehalis Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers auction. It was purchased originally by a contractor for a transit agency in CA where it put on quite a few miles in a few short years. The company lost the contract and sold off the buses. This particular bus then went through at least three more owners before it went to auction where it sold for $3K.

As I said, there are a few out there like what you want but don't get so set on a lift and pass up a really nice non-lift equipped bus.

Good luck on your quest!
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Old 02-11-2017, 07:58 AM   #14
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Terra Alta, WV
Posts: 153
Chassis: Sold
I'm about to post my bus for sale. I bought it to convert. I'm slowly coming to terms that I just have too much going on to convert it and convert it right. Any how:

2000 40' AmTran RE with 466E 250hp & MD3060 150K miles. I replaced the rear end so now it goes 85mph (trust me) it goes. No rust!

The drivers front Kingpin has been replaced with a "Keyser", passinger side is great but I have the Keyser pin for that also.

I bought the bus in Orlando Florida, drove it to WV. Took a church group to Orlando and back and tooled around
WV in it. Going to Florida I had a retired school bus driver as a 2nd driver and he kept inching past 85. It's too quite he would say. Lol. I just took it out for about 50 miles in October.

I replaced the alternator with a 200amp, upgraded the speaker, installed 12v power points thru the bus for the church group and added a mid heater.

I can deliver anywhere in the US and will post photos/videos with in a few days. The Re is not a cheap bus and the rear end /kingpin was a $2.5K job. The speedometer is 25% off (slow) due to the rear end change. I'm asking $12.5K. I drive truck for a living so I was very selective when I bought then and looked as several prior to buying this. Some I look at were absolute junk yet never described that way.

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Old 02-11-2017, 08:18 AM   #15
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Posts: 153
Chassis: Sold
IMG_20160305_0950180_rewind.jpg the app keeps crashing when I try to post a photo. I bought a little white bus first. Mistake. It was a rust bucket and junk. I learned and still learning that you often pay for what you get. Find a great deal, then you get home and discover all the things that need fixed. With my bus, I have a tail light to replace and fluid/tire check and I'm ready to travel. I do have a Air compressor and air dryer on hand as the current one is starting to pass oil. But that's it. It's in Terra Alta WV 26764 -304-698-2698

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Old 02-11-2017, 08:34 AM   #16
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 12,814
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
my FIRST bus was part of a business deal went wrong, I got paid with a shortie gasser Bluebird.. I built up the motor in it a bit and then psychologiucally was in a bad space so it ended up parked inside a shared garage for 5 years.. then got burned in a fire.. i collected insurance money and that re-ignited my interest in having a bus.. I then built a lofty set of goals and a short set of time.. the DEV came from a bus dealer.. yes I paid too much for it, but its been a darn good bus, made my goals, and 13000 miles in 8 months...

RedByrd came about as me more or less wanting to learn how the government auctions worked.. I put in a pretty low bid on a shortie.. a forum member looked at all the busses in that auction and said they all were in pretty good shape... I won the bid..

I have found alot has to do with the area you are bidding in (geographically) and also the type of busses.. if you are in the south bidding on nice big powerful busses, the exporters are too..

dealers like to buy northern busses with some rust cheaply and then mark them up..

the desirable busses will go for more money generally..

the little shorties like I and ECCB got are not the most desirable busses for the masses.. they have 545's and are short so not a lot of space for the conversion that general populous wants.. and only certain exporters want shorties..

if you can find a Niche-style bus that fits your needs you may find less bidding competition..
-Christopher
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Old 02-11-2017, 08:45 AM   #17
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Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Spent about two years looking for a vintage rig. I originally wanted a Chevy COE that I could just build a box onto. Turns out they are hard to come by in any kind of reasonable shape. Then, about a year in it happened. Saw a couple of Chevy Skoolies from the "war years"...1942 to early '47...and fell in love. What they call "The Art Deco" series. I knew it would mean spending way more time and money than building a later model rig, but then...that "Love" thing usually does get you in such trouble. No looking back now. Gotta just keep pushing onward.
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Old 02-11-2017, 08:46 AM   #18
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Chassis: Sold
Government auctions can be good. Be careful though. As I left the Air Force more and more maintenance work was being taken over by contractors who did not work on a cost+. We had to fight for any of our equipment to be fixed and even more so for it to be done right. They even started using Chinese parts/tires when they were required to buy American. I really missed the GI's.

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Old 02-14-2017, 08:00 PM   #19
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250 miles one way is a bit on the long side. 250 round trip is no problem. If it's one way, there had better be something worthwhile there. Beach, mountain, city I've never been to, etc. Something to make an overnight worth while. I'll go a lot further (1,000+) to buy a bus if I have a people that can look at it for me.
Depends on how you look at it....If I travel that far, I have talked to someone, and have got the low-down, and have a pretty good feel (or think I do) on what I am going to see. However, I don't let that cloud my judgement when I'm evaluating the vehicle. Always want to have a critical eye, and don't want to let the distance traveled cloud your judgement. If I see something I don't like (read $$$) then I pass. I don't think I've ever gone on a long distance look-see by myself, so worst case scenario, I look at it as a pleasant roadtrip with either a good friend or my wife....I like roadtrips Gotta enjoy the journey!
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Old 02-15-2017, 07:20 AM   #20
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,711
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhobryan View Post
I don't think I've ever gone on a long distance look-see by myself, so worst case scenario, I look at it as a pleasant roadtrip with either a good friend or my wife....I like roadtrips Gotta enjoy the journey!
Oh I get all that.

I took the gf on the trip to VA. It was about 3 1/2 hrs. Only problem with that is she's usually asleep by the end of my street. My daughter is usually asleep by the end of my driveway. My driveway is a parking pad, a sidewalk, and 2 feet of grade to the road.

If the snoring gets too loud, I'll do a sudden lane change or brake check. SQUIRREL!!! Didn't you see it? Big fat fluffy guy. I just saved his life.
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