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Old 07-06-2017, 03:01 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
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New member from Cincinnati, Ohio

Hi everyone,

We are a family of 4, my wife, 2 children and myself.
We are brand new to buses and have lots to learn. We are looking for a bus (preferably an 84 seater) with a budget of around $6000. So far, I've learned that a Blue Bird is one of the better ones. Engine, 5.9 cummins is a classic, and found out today there's an 8.6 engine as well. Transmission, Allison 2500-3000, MP360 and to stay away from AP545. Get air brakes instead of hydraulics. To avoid any and all buses '07 and newer as to avoid the new electronics and emissions. Not too much rust or better, none at all. And make sure that the tires are still in good shape, since it's fairly expensive to replace.
It is our plan to convert the bus and when finished, drive it to Washington and live there for at least 5 years. We would also like to tow our 1982 VW Vanagon.

So we have tons of questions. What year, make and model is recommended? Max mileage. What to avoid at all cost. Buy from dealer, school district or other? RE over FE? ...

So we're on square one, and to me, also the most important one. The bus we are going to buy is going to be our home for quite some time.

I know it's going to be a ton of reading, researching, work, sweat, blood and tears, but in the end well worth it. I want to make it a fun and exciting adventure and really look forward to it!

I look forward to any and all replies and I thank you all so much in advance!

P.S. I don't think I would be able to do this without this website and all its members. So, thank you thank you thank you!!

Yours truly,

Wim and family
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Old 07-07-2017, 11:47 AM   #2
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Welcome Wim and family,

It looks like you have been doing your research. Keep it up. There is a ton of great info on this board.

To answer all of your questions at once: It depends...

You want to drive it to WA and live for 5 years. Are you going to be traveling during that time? A little? A lot. If your bus is primarily a "tiny home" then drive train choices are less important. If you plan on a lot of travel then I would definitely look for a Cummins 8.3 or International DT466 and an Allison MD-3060, 2000 series or MT-643. The Cummins 5.9 would be my second choice. The 5.9 is a great motor but may be a bit under powered in a full size bus.

FE vs RE vs Conventional:

FE: Most usable space for a given length bus. Worst engine access for maintenance. Engine noise & heat can be annoying.

RE:Slightly less usable space for a given length bus. Better engine access. Quiet & no heat issue.

Conv: Least usable space for a given length bus. Best engine access. Little issue with heat & noise.

If you are comfortable learning air brakes then definitely go that route.

I think that all of the big nam builders build good buses. Go out and look at some and see what tickles your fancy.

Check local bus barns & dealers.

Auction sites:

www.govdeals.com

Public Surplus: Government Surplus Auctions

Have fun!!
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Old 07-07-2017, 05:15 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
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Cincinnati new member

Thanks Steve for your reply!

In the meantime, I found 3 bluebird buses (two '02 and one '03) in Indiana, 84 seaters and all with a 5.9 cummins, at a cost of $6000 to $6500, mileage around the 130.000 range. It's a dealership and told them to look out for an 8.3 for us. At a dealer in Ohio there's a similar one, but is being held for a potential buyer, waiting to hear back Monday wether the sale is final or not.
I'm pretty sure that's what we're settling on, the biggest bus with the biggest engine.

Steve, we're heading to WA in about 3 weeks and will be visiting a friend in Bellingham as well as visit Mount Vernon and Concrete. Any suggestions regarding buses etc. out there?

Thanks so much! And have a great weekend!

Wim and family
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Old 07-07-2017, 05:22 PM   #4
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Welcome guys! --- Also check with local school districts. There you pay "wholesale" for the same buses the re-sellers mark up by at least double. You also have a shot at getting the service records which can be worth their weight in gold.

Keep an eye on GovDeals also.

Best of luck on the hunt.
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Old 07-08-2017, 03:00 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thanks Tango

Yes, I did inform with the local school district, but they wanted way too much for their buses.
We'll just keep looking.
Thanks!
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Old 07-08-2017, 03:09 PM   #6
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
of course the auctions.. look at those for good prices as well... if you are looking at dealers, don brown busses in new york state seems to have pretty reasonable prices..

buscrazy.net i think is their web.. they have a new inventory search which is crappy I think, but you can call them too..

busses run in ohio seem to be very mechanically sound.. (the inspectors here in the state are pretty tough on mechanicals).. hwoever any bus in the midwest will be more likely to have rust..

I havent seen much with 8.3 neasr here.. seems lots of those busses end up in the hilly areas of kentucky, tennessee, and of course out west.
-Christopher
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Old 07-09-2017, 10:39 AM   #7
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Join Date: May 2016
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Posts: 6,363
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Busses in WA.....

https://seattle.craigslist.org/searc...20bus&sort=rel

There used to be NW Bus sales in Seattle but their website is down. Not sure if they are still around.

There is a Bluebird dealer in Everett that has trade ins from time to time. REALLY nice folks there.

Also check out these folks: Current Inventory/Pre-Owned Inventory from Harlow's Bus Sales They have locations that may be along your route. I have heard good things about these folks.

I have also seen a couple of buses at the Bellingham Auto Auction.
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Old 07-09-2017, 10:48 AM   #8
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Join Date: May 2016
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Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Also, just to illustrate the difference between dealer & auction. I took a little ribbing for paying too much for my 2002 Bluebird RE (8.3, MD-3060 & 170k miles). With auction fees I paid $3850.
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Old 07-09-2017, 10:55 AM   #9
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Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
there are a mix of dealer busses and auction busses that members have.. dealers you will pay more but you get the advantage of going and kicking tires and looking at your bus before you buy it.. even riding or driving it..

auction busses you most often dont get that chance, however many auction sites post lots of pictures and will answer questions you send to them.. plus in many cases the VIN is posted.. you can gain a lot of info if you are bidding on a bus from a manufacturer thats still in business (thomas, bluebird, amtran / IC). by contacting a dealer for that manufacturer..

the dealers bid on the same auctions we have access to.. so naturally they will mark up the prices on the dealer lot compared to what we can pay.. auctions require patience.. as a bus you are bidding on may go out of your price range (someone else wants it badly). or there arent any busses you like up and available at that time.. if you can spare yourself a longer timeline then you can watch the sites, learn from here and from even putting some bids out there to get an idea what the going rate is on a particular bus you are looking at.

being time constrained will likely result in you paying more just because you cant sit and seek out that good deal.
-Christopher
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Old 07-09-2017, 10:56 AM   #10
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also your purpose as well affects what and how you go about getting it.. I didnt see if you were looking to live in the bus as a home or if you are building a Vacation cruiser..
-Christopher
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Old 07-09-2017, 12:23 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
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Thanks Christopher!
I wouldn't mind buying from an auction, especially if we can save us a few thousand $, but having no experience whatsoever, I do like to the idea of being able to go see a bus and get a feel for it. I drove up to Lima, OH http://cardinalbussales.com/the other day and was able to talk to them (in person) check for rust, tires, start up and drive a bus.
How do you bid for a bus without seeing it, driving etc... that's the only thing.
The guys in Indiana I talked to over the phone are Kerlin Bus Sales

Yes, we are going to live in the bus.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-09-2017, 12:29 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
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That's a great deal. But how did you know if the bus had lots of rust, the engine, the tires etc. without seeing it in person? How did it turn out for you? Did you have a lot of work to do on it?
Thanks for the places to check out out west. There is of course the option of buying it there and building it once we get out there, a year or so from now, but would prefer to get started here and now and just drive it out there. Ready and done, you know...
Thanks
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Old 07-09-2017, 12:35 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
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Thanks Christopher,
I posted something a minute ago that has a 2 websites included but got this as a reply: 'Thank you for posting! Your post will not be visible until a moderator has approved it for posting.' This is new to me.
Anyway, I will check out the place in NY and see what they got.
Where did you get your bus?
Thanks,
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Old 07-09-2017, 02:40 PM   #14
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Some amazing deals on the auction sites right now. Dealers are a ripoff.
__________________
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Roll Your Own Build Thread
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Old 07-09-2017, 02:50 PM   #15
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My husband and I live in Cincinnati and have similar intentions.
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Old 07-09-2017, 05:00 PM   #16
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 13,539
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
im just 'up the pike' in Columbus with 2 busses if either of you are interested in seeing / driving a skoolie up close.. mine are not camper / home conversions.. other than my electro-mechanical mods.(they are my "street-rods".. they are mostly virgin and are bioth shorties.. one is 24 feet the other is 22..

-Christopher
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Old 07-09-2017, 06:01 PM   #17
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 1,266
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
I got my 03 Thomas HDX through Midwest Transit. Had 128K on the clock, 6 almost new tires and $8K out of my pocket. Rode like it was on rails and got approx 7.5 mpg at 65 mph.
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Old 07-09-2017, 06:14 PM   #18
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Try this: 2001 IC
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Old 07-09-2017, 06:39 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hi Ardythe,
We're in Westwood. Nice to meet you!
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Old 07-09-2017, 06:44 PM   #20
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
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Yes, thanks for the offer!
Would be nice to meet a fellow bus fan. I'd really like to meet someone as well (hopefully in the Tristateaarea) that has a finished bus, so as to see it up close and get a feel... I'm much more of a visual person and would be easier for me to understand some of the projects that are awaiting me.
It's all good!
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