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Old 06-22-2018, 11:27 AM   #61
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I dunno those vise grips are a nice upgrade over factory.
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Old 06-22-2018, 12:51 PM   #62
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I dunno those vise grips are a nice upgrade over factory.
Ya, but they're metric, so almost useless for anything other than pinching hoses that are soft and won't notice the mm/sae difference.
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Old 06-22-2018, 12:55 PM   #63
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I still remember how pissed I was when I accidentally bought a metric hammer. I had to drive an hour uphill both ways to harbor freight to return it for a SAE model. The project I was working on was way too important to risk stripping nails.
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Old 06-22-2018, 01:03 PM   #64
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Regarding the AT545 transmission: it gives you no downhill engine braking. That is, it's like shifting to neutral or pushing in the clutch at the top of the hill. Whee!

Well, that's probably not what I would say between screams. I waiting until I found an Allison 2000 and am pleased with how hit has behaved. Most all Allisons OTHER than the AT545 will give you engine braking. Not as much as a retarder or Jake brake, of course, but I would prefer not to depend on brakes only as I cross the Rockies.

The AT545 is probably a fine transmission for flat land or nearly flat land, and would be fine in the mountains (I'm guessing) for someone who knew what they were doing and who wasn't in a hurry. Maybe. But I chose differently.

Wishing you the best on your search!
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Old 06-22-2018, 01:17 PM   #65
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You get some engine braking if you shift down. I spent a good amount of time in "2" in the mountains last year with mine. I'm sure it was spewing heat like crazy in the process...
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Old 06-22-2018, 01:58 PM   #66
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Ya, but they're metric, so almost useless for anything other than pinching hoses that are soft and won't notice the mm/sae difference.
so your saying I should look for a merc engine to go with the vise grips?
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Old 06-22-2018, 02:02 PM   #67
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I'm not singing the praises of the 545 but I bough my second bus with one agree 30k miles of driving the first one. It's not a deal breaker to me. Seems like the rear end gear ratio on still unknown? Try to find that out, any number bigger then 4.78 is bad.

Sitting isn't great but it's less bad on a bus. The tires might be distorted from sitting for a long time, possibly enough to require replacement. Seems like they might be pretty old as well. Did you check their date stamps? New tires on that will set you back 2 grand or more. Even if you are making peace with the price he is asking that would turn me off right away.

One AC is better than none, without looking at it it's hard to know what would be necessary to bring the other one back up. Could be something cheap, could be something expensive. I have put about 1200 into repairs on my systems and they seemed to work fine when I bought it.

Again, what I don't like just is the price. That money should buy you an All American with better everything. The tc2000 is a fine bus but it was the budget model, and the right price is 1/3 what he is asking.
Your right too many things wrong with this one. I really wanted to like it but its a mess Im worried I will chasing too many non-conversion issues to actually get to the conversion. Well the search continues....
Dont ever buy a metric hammer, Jiffy lube gives them away free if you get the air in your tires rotated during your oil change (and little known fact they will check your muffler bearings for free if you ask them too).
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Old 06-22-2018, 02:03 PM   #68
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That's a $2000 bus man.
I agree and even at 2k I dont think its the bus for me. We keep on keeping on.
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Old 06-22-2018, 02:06 PM   #69
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Box Truck Skoolie

Maybe random but has anyone done a skoolie type conversion on a box truck (straight truck, moving van, etc.)? I have seen a couple on youtube. lots of headroom in that box. There are even some crew cab box trucks out there would be like a fifth wheel all in one package. They seem to have similar engine trans configs as the buses. I am still committed to finding a skoolie but I am open to alternative solutions. Just wondering.
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Old 06-22-2018, 02:18 PM   #70
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I agree and even at 2k I dont think its the bus for me. We keep on keeping on.
We're not talking breaking Fort Knox when buying a bus. I use the rule on Budget of whatever you want to spend, double it and add $200 to be realistic. If your budget is $2k, you would be light years ahead to spend $4k on the same bus with no rust or mechanical issues that will run you more then the $2k extra you spend up front. I wanted a bus for $2k like everyone. But after flying and looking at one (actually bought and refunded) and another airfare, purchase price ($3500) and fuel home, I have close to $6k in mine as it hit the driveway the first time. But I have what I want with no issues. Took me 4-5 months of diligent search everyday to finally find what I wanted.
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Old 06-22-2018, 02:26 PM   #71
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My friend has a converted u-haul, it's a 24' box on a for van chassis. 7.3 IDI with a retrofit 5 speed manual. He does good in it, gets much better mpg and the 5 speed is way better for climbing hills while being way worse in crawling traffic (we made the mistake of going through the beach front at ft lauderdale during peak T&A season).

I cover it a bit in my article comparing a bus to other options: https://wanderlounge.net/are-you-con...us-conversion/
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Old 06-22-2018, 02:32 PM   #72
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We're not talking breaking Fort Knox when buying a bus. I use the rule on Budget of whatever you want to spend, double it and add $200 to be realistic. If your budget is $2k, you would be light years ahead to spend $4k on the same bus with no rust or mechanical issues that will run you more then the $2k extra you spend up front. I wanted a bus for $2k like everyone. But after flying and looking at one (actually bought and refunded) and another airfare, purchase price ($3500) and fuel home, I have close to $6k in mine as it hit the driveway the first time. But I have what I want with no issues. Took me 4-5 months of diligent search everyday to finally find what I wanted.
marc - Im with you on this. I would love to pay 2k but in reality I need something quick and local so I gotta pay a little stupid tax. For the right bus that I can see local I would pay $4-6k no problem. I just gotta find the damn thing.
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Old 06-22-2018, 02:35 PM   #73
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My friend has a converted u-haul, it's a 24' box on a for van chassis. 7.3 IDI with a retrofit 5 speed manual. He does good in it, gets much better mpg and the 5 speed is way better for climbing hills while being way worse in crawling traffic (we made the mistake of going through the beach front at ft lauderdale during peak T&A season).

I cover it a bit in my article comparing a bus to other options: https://wanderlounge.net/are-you-con...us-conversion/
Im back to your page. You are my guru lead me. The box thing is interesting gonna look for those too now. 24' barn doors moms attic oh yeah and crew cab cuz I just like making things difficult
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Old 06-22-2018, 02:42 PM   #74
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marc - Im with you on this. I would love to pay 2k but in reality I need something quick and local so I gotta pay a little stupid tax. For the right bus that I can see local I would pay $4-6k no problem. I just gotta find the damn thing.
What you want may not come up locally any time soon. If you're willing to wait, that's fine. If you're in a hurry you may have to travel, I went 2600 miles for mine.
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Old 06-23-2018, 07:18 PM   #75
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God bless that free spirit that wants to jump into the whacky world of skoolies. I feel the overwhelming urge to share this STRONG opinion here. But this comes with one massive caveat: I have not yet done a skoolie myself. But I have spent my entire career doing project oriented work, and I’ve delved into enough info to know that the challenges of skoolie conversions are probably worse than for any other project that a typical guy on the street might get involved in. My guess would be that unless you have an incredible depth of experience in a construction related feild, and/or have a deep pool of resources that will be doing the work, that you may well be sitting with an unfinished bus by the time March of next year rolls around. Of course I could be totally wrong. I would just really invite you to sit back and do some serious contemplation about what you real skills are. There are a number of replies in this thread where people have been questioning the time line over and over. And those are from people who have actually built skoolies. If you’re serious about being on the road by the end of October for $30K, it seems like an already (or nearly) completed conversion would be the only way to go. Someone had included a really nice MCI, which you pointed out didn’t have the right layout. It would be FAR easier to modify a fully functional conversion than to do your own build out. Of course whatever direction you follow, I wish you the very best. I just hope you can really hear what people have been saying here. Great luck either way!!
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Old 06-23-2018, 10:28 PM   #76
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Exclamation it is much easier to build a house

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... the challenges of skoolie conversions are probably worse than for any other project that a typical guy on the street might get involved in. My guess would be that unless you have an incredible depth of experience in a construction related feild, and/or have a deep pool of resources that will be doing the work, that you may well be sitting with an unfinished bus ...
I agree!!!
with my 45 yrs in design and building, I have been challenged. I have kept a log that shows over 850 hours already in my bus conversion. Carpentry, painting, plumbing, and wiring 90% done... just now starting to install the solar panels.

This may sound incredible, but it is much easier to build a house. Buses have very few right angles and forget "level" Buy a 12" and 24" square.

My bus conversion takes:
Huge motivation and tenacity
Huge creativity / problem solving
Experience with EVERY tool we can buy
Moderate skill in mechanics, carpentry, welding, auto wiring, plumbing, painting, insulating, heating, cooling, etc.
Practical knowledge of proper use of building materials, screws, glues, caulks, sealants
and
Way more time and money than imagined

We will never get our money (forget the labor) out on resale.
But it is a portable home for $12k.
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Old 06-23-2018, 11:28 PM   #77
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shot time frame more money

good luck on your search.

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Old 06-24-2018, 02:45 AM   #78
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Ok, I'll chime in. First, you absolutely can buy a bus now and have it ready to hit the road by October. I bought a bus once and after taking the seats out and painting it I spent one day "converting" it and then took my family on a summer break trip from TN to CA and back. My (now grown) children look back on that trip as the most fun thing we've ever done as a family. And I agree that it really was fun. For me one of the reasons was we just had a great kick back attitude enjoying the funkiness of a school bus. Sometimes if you get caught up in having to have things just so (other than making sure everything's in great mechanical shape) you lose some of the joy IMO.

So first I would decide what I want as a vehicle. I've owned a box truck (and made a pass through) and wouldn't do it again. I've owned an Eagle bus and would give that one you looked at some real consideration. I think a school bus is pretty ideal also.

Do you want nice comfy smooth traveling? The Eagle, even though it looked like it was pretty messy has already had a LOT of work done to it and is the closest to a "clean slate" of all the buses you've looked at. If you could get him close to $10k it would almost be a steal and I would VERY seriously consider it. Raised roof, water and waste tanks in, and RV windows skinned in is pretty serious work. No rust is awesome. The Cummins engine is not stock so I'm curious about the story on that. Big engine for sure and probably not the best MPG. Looks clean.
There's a book called "The Bus Converter's Bible" by Dave Galey that will basically hold your hand as you build if you wanted to go with the Eagle. It was published 20 years ago but it has a lot of indepth info. He was a retired engineer so it's got charts like the holding strength of screws in different types of wood, etc.
Oh, I would also ask about the torsion suspension if it still has adjustment left. If it's a high mileage chassis it may not have much adjustment left. From the pictures however the bus looks like it's sitting nice and high.
An Eagle has a very smooth ride that you won't get in a skoolie. It's also not as maneuverable.

Ok, it's getting late and I'm blowing a lot of hot air. More hot air: I'm a bus contractor and drive a school bus for a living so I've driven just about everything there is out there.

Except a Crown. If you can find a nice Crown bus I would really think about that.

Otherwise, I say get a rear engined bus that's 40' long. You'll enjoy the extra space and they're just about as maneuverable as a shorty. It will go just as well on the back roads as any other school bus. Yes, you may be limited at some campgrounds but really? There's a lot of places to camp.

I'm partial to International, then BB All American, then Thomas. This auction is ending Monday: https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...2&acctid=11331
There's a thread on here with someone in that area bidding on it so I don't know if you would feel right about bidding against him. The reserve is $3000. It looks like a good bus (no rust) and the engine issue they're speaking of sounds like it's not a big deal. Looks like it has air ride front and back and is set up for highway traveling. If it goes for close to that price it will be a great deal.

Otherwise, I would go with the https://lasvegas.craigslist.org/cto/...621293289.html
Find out the hours on the Hobbs meter (it's on the dash below the tach). With that mileage hopefully the hours are a little less than 5000. If it's way over that it means the bus was very much a stop and go bus. But with that big engine and sounds like it's geared for the highway it may have fairly low hours.
It's BS about going 90 mph. If 6th gear is unlocked you can get it above 75 but there's absolutely no reason for that. You can find out if it's unlocked by starting the bus and looking at the readout at the top of the gear shifter. If it shows "5" it's not unlocked. Also, 240k is fairly high mileage for a bus. However, if it was going up grades at the speeds they're saying the engine still has plenty of life left. Find out the school district they bought it from and try to talk to somebody in the bus barn.
Even though it's pretty high, since you sound like you're in a hurry I would make him a firm offer up to 7k. Who knows, he might bite at 5k. He probably bought it for 2500 at auction so he would be making money.

And lastly (if you got the Mesquite bus) I would take the seats out and not worry about stripping it any further. With no rust that will give you a head start. Make a list of what you HAVE to have in the conversion. Then, throw some air beds, a cooler and odds and ends and go camping somewhere a couple hours away. Redo your list and go camping again. Then make your final list and get to work. That way you can get comfortable driving the bus and you'll really know what's important.
In other words, you can make your October deadline but your bus is not going to be fancy dancy. Nothing wrong with that. For me, all I need is a mini-split heat pump and a comfy bed and a table to eat my take out food on. Well, a shower and toilet and kitchen would be nice to. Maybe for you it's a generator and a nice sound system and a cozy couch.
Good grief. It's late.
Rick
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Old 06-24-2018, 10:11 AM   #79
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Choices...

I'm not going to tell you you can get a bus for a lot less money by going to a school district auction. You already know that. My choice, far and away, would be the Blue Bird with the 8. 3 L Cummins and the MD 3060 trans. Yes, higher miles, but not too many by a long ways. The six speed, double overdrive trans and engine combo is the thing. The only reason we don't have that exact bus, is we realized we need something smaller. But you need something big. A highway motorcoach style will be impossible to boondocking with, due to ground clearance issues. A rust free '03 Bluebird (one I was in love with) went for $11,000 from the Oregon school district. Heated mirrors, air ride seat, on-spot tire chains, 84 passenger. The only thing I don't like about Bluebirds is all the dang rivets.
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Old 06-24-2018, 12:40 PM   #80
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I have a Thomas SafeTLiner Cat 3126B Allison MD3060 auto transmission. I canít stress just how big a waste of money the Thomas is, even more the 3126 is total JUNK. Mine ran hot and destroyed the engine after 250 miles. Buyer beware!!!!
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