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Old 08-31-2017, 04:22 PM   #1
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New and need help choosing a bus!! Please!

So we have done research but want to get some input here. We know we want at least a 40 footer but aside from that we would love any and all bus recommendations.

We will be living in it full time with our one year old son, 2 small dogs and our cat. We also plan to have another child in the near future and want to live in our bus for around the next 2-5 years and want to get it done in about 3-6 months (I know ambitious lol)
We will mostly be parked living in it but will travel/move to different places up to 2 times a year but likely less. Also we hope to be able to tow our SUV behind us.

What do you guys recommend?


EDIT we want to spend under 4K on the actual bus and 10-15k or less on the conversion (my dad just built an earth home and we are building it with him so labor and tools aren't a concern)
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Old 08-31-2017, 04:31 PM   #2
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  • Define your need.
    You've already done this.
  • Check your finances.
    MOST IMPORTANT. You will find your finances get depleted QUICKLY.
  • Size
    The bigger, the better. Some will define length as the number of windows; others will define size as the number of rated passengers. Windows come in far too many sizes, so go with rated passengers. Of course, if you can physically touch the beast, bring a tape measure.
  • Engine placement
    Front engine? Rear Engine? Conventional (with a hood)? Transit (no hood)? Front engined conventional give you great access to the engine, but the drive train is very long. A front engined transit's biggest drawback is the engine is inside and difficult to work on. It, too, has a very long drive train and, while driving, is noisy - very noisy. The Rear Engined transit style - quiet while driving, very short drive train and lots of vacant floor space. Big plus - basement space.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:06 PM   #3
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I edited to add our budget -under 4K for the bus
Driving noise isn't a huge concern as we will only be driving it 1-2 times a year when we move locations.

We are open to recommendations on all front, model engine placement, engine in general, tranny, etc. the whole thing.
Ideally some specific recommendation for what busses to look for would be ideal!
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:37 PM   #4
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If you're planning on towing, look for the bigger engines international dt466 and dt530
Cummins 8.3
Transmission: most bigger engines will have the md3060 or Mt 643.
The 3060 has 5 gears, torque converter lock up and an OD
The 643 has 4 gears and a final drive of 1:1 with lock up.
Both of those are solid trans.
Body style: a transit style front engine will give you the most living space. A rear engine slightly less with more room under it for house mechanical and storage.
A conventional is the easiest engine to work on, but you lose around 6-8 ft of floor space.
Stay away from any bus that has emissions equipment... Pricey and troublesome.


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Old 08-31-2017, 06:38 PM   #5
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Thank you! Any specific busses that fit that mold or is it just look through the listings for similar specs?
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Old 08-31-2017, 07:34 PM   #6
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Most RE busses have an md3060 or 643 on the mechanical years.
A Cummins 5.9/3060 with the right gears could pull a toad easily on flats but I wouldn't do too many steep grades.
I am partial to international/Amtran busses, but I bought a bluebird because I found it had what I needed and was in my price range. When you start to get into what maker of bus you are asking Chevy vs Ford vs Dodge.

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Old 08-31-2017, 08:30 PM   #7
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Good luck on the <$4k price range. You'll need it. Area, too, is important. Some areas (Rustbelt) give you garbage for a high price. Midwest Transit has a listing for buses <$4K, but they're long in the tooth.
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:13 PM   #8
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Sorry guys, I have no idea what kind of bus config has those specific types of engines and transmissions.
The only thing I recognized was the engine and tranny from my bus which was classified as a bigger bus with pulling abilities.
I have an 1999 International 3800 full size 40 foot bus.
I paid $2,700 a year ago this last march.
Great engine, great transmission, great tires and it runs like a champ.
A very good lucky find once, you correct the massive rust issues I faced.

Honestly, $4,000 for a bus conversation seems light to me.
I picture $4,000 getting you a bus, seats removed, maybe a couple of 2x4 walls, a cooler as a frig, gallon jugs for water, a hunters bathroom bucket, and a laptop for entertainment, work, communications. I wouldn't expect much for four grand but, it certainly can be done.

A lot of people have done amazing things with reclaimed products. Wood, craigslist free stuff, salvage yards, friends and family and made some very comfortable skoolies.

Good luck and welcome to the best forum on the WWW.
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:45 PM   #9
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4K is the bus only budget, 10k-ish for the actual conversion
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Good luck on the <$4k price range. You'll need it. Area, too, is important. Some areas (Rustbelt) give you garbage for a high price. Midwest Transit has a listing for buses <$4K, but they're long in the tooth.
What is "long in tooth"? I'm not familiar with that phrase
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Old 08-31-2017, 11:13 PM   #11
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What is "long in tooth"? I'm not familiar with that phrase
AKA "older than dirt".

**Useless Trivia!** Some animals (rabbits are a good example, I think beavers are too); their front teeth don't stop growing, so they need to chew and gnaw on things to keep their teeth growth in check. An older rabbit may not gnaw and chew as much as a younger one, so its teeth get longer and longer. It can actually lead to them being unable to eat and eventual starvation.
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Old 08-31-2017, 11:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
AKA "older than dirt".

**Useless Trivia!** Some animals (rabbits are a good example, I think beavers are too); their front teeth don't stop growing, so they need to chew and gnaw on things to keep their teeth growth in check. An older rabbit may not gnaw and chew as much as a younger one, so its teeth get longer and longer. It can actually lead to them being unable to eat and eventual starvation.
Oh I see! Old isn't a huge concern for us since then we can easily avoid any computerized nonsense and emissions junk. Good engine good tires not to much rust and we are good to go. Guess now we just have to wait until the lucky bus comes along!
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Old 09-01-2017, 12:49 AM   #13
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Here is a really solid bus that is seriously long in the tooth. But I think you could probably get it for under your budget. GILLIG 1968 C190-12

Here is another older bus but it has a good power package, has no rust, and it is priced about as low as it ever gets. International 1993 AMTRAN

Here is a newer bus with all of the goodies--big HP pre-emission engine, big transmission, luggage compartments, 12" windows, tinted glass, and white roof. Used 2004 IC RE - Kankakee IL Near Nixa MO - Midwest Transit
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Old 09-01-2017, 09:11 AM   #14
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Here is a really solid bus that is seriously long in the tooth. But I think you could probably get it for under your budget. GILLIG 1968 C190-12

Here is another older bus but it has a good power package, has no rust, and it is priced about as low as it ever gets. International 1993 AMTRAN

Here is a newer bus with all of the goodies--big HP pre-emission engine, big transmission, luggage compartments, 12" windows, tinted glass, and white roof. Used 2004 IC RE - Kankakee IL Near Nixa MO - Midwest Transit
We will look into all of those! Thank you tons!
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Old 09-01-2017, 04:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Here is a really solid bus that is seriously long in the tooth. But I think you could probably get it for under your budget. GILLIG 1968 C190-12

Here is another older bus but it has a good power package, has no rust, and it is priced about as low as it ever gets. International 1993 AMTRAN

Here is a newer bus with all of the goodies--big HP pre-emission engine, big transmission, luggage compartments, 12" windows, tinted glass, and white roof. Used 2004 IC RE - Kankakee IL Near Nixa MO - Midwest Transit

Do you know if the 1993 AMTRAN is a RE or if it's FE which kind? I guess we do want to avoid super noisy and hot if possible.
I want a dog nose but I haven't seen many for sale especially with specs to tow an SUV; in case you saw one of those for sale anywhere with pulling ability in good condition I'd love a link haha
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Old 09-01-2017, 05:27 PM   #16
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Do you know if the 1993 AMTRAN is a RE or if it's FE which kind? I guess we do want to avoid super noisy and hot if possible.
I want a dog nose but I haven't seen many for sale especially with specs to tow an SUV; in case you saw one of those for sale anywhere with pulling ability in good condition I'd love a link haha
FE.
I have a very similar AmTran, mines a 92 Ward Senator, which was renamed AmTran Genesis in 1993.
VERY nice buses, they make for a fantastic conversion.
The noise and heat aren't as bad as some folks make them out to be. They can also be mitigated. Bluebird Wanderlodges were FE.
ALL the floorspace behind the driver seat in a FE bus is usable space, and you get a back door as well.
Mechanical DT466 with a 643 trans is a GREAT drivetrain.
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Old 09-01-2017, 05:46 PM   #17
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So I think we are going to contact them about purchasing it, the 93 AMTRAN but I assume we should have a local mechanic go check it over for us beforehand or? Neither of us are remotely familiar with buying a vehicle from out of state. We have to have it delivered to CO and I'm assuming we will have to hire a third party for that. ��
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Old 09-01-2017, 05:54 PM   #18
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So I think we are going to contact them about purchasing it, the 93 AMTRAN but I assume we should have a local mechanic go check it over for us beforehand or? Neither of us are remotely familiar with buying a vehicle from out of state. We have to have it delivered to CO and I'm assuming we will have to hire a third party for that. ��
That one's got high headroom. Looks like its fairly decked out. Find out what state its from. I'll bet it has rear air ride. Ask about that. Makes for a MUCH better ride than leaf springs.
Buses in Colorado are typically really good buses. Mountain buses usually come with electronic driveline retarders for the steep grades, high horsepower, and usually are well cared for.
My 98 short bus is from Aurora, got it for $1760 on Public Surplus last year.
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Old 09-01-2017, 05:59 PM   #19
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That one's got high headroom. Looks like its fairly decked out. Find out what state its from. I'll bet it has rear air ride. Ask about that. Makes for a MUCH better ride than leaf springs.
Buses in Colorado are typically really good buses. Mountain buses usually come with electronic driveline retarders for the steep grades, high horsepower, and usually are well cared for.
My 98 short bus is from Aurora, got it for $1760 on Public Surplus last year.
Post says IL which makes me worry about rust and no photos show the engine or undercarriage so it could be a rust bucket but I'm really hoping not. I requested a quote and I'm hoping from there I'll be able to actually talk to someone about it
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Old 09-01-2017, 10:34 PM   #20
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Definitely look into the rust situation, if there is any. I try not to buy stuff from the rust belt. Ask them for more pics of the bus. Wheels look rusty, that's a sign its from the rust belt. I saw a Michigan bus that was seriously the most rusted vehicle I've ever seen. Looked like it had driven through saltwater daily.
If you can be patient, some of the best buses you can get are Colorado buses. Watch GovDeals and Public Surplus.
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