Sorry for the long post, but I want to try to get the best advice possible.
Newish member here, near Baltimore, MD. I've been reading for some time, but this is the first post. I used to drive school buses to pay for college, so I am very familiar with how a bus drives. My wife and I have agreed to build a skoolie for traveling with our family. I just completed a large house remodel (including new kitchen and bathroom), and I have done some welding, so I believe that I already have most of the skills and tools needed for the conversion. I've already received a quote for insurance pre-conversion, have found some sources for insurance post conversion, and have contacted a title/tag place for registration and tags,so I'm good there. If this works, I'll post all the details.
I have found a number of buses that I think will be good candidates at a dealer/salvage yard (M&M Service and Salvage Yard, in Virginia. I plan to go look at them soon, but I would like some advice from the great skoolie hive mind here. There are 4 buses in particular, one 2005 and 3 2006 International RE300 (model PB30500). All three are configured the same-DT466, what appears to be an MD3060 (some of the pics of sister buses show 6th gear, so hopefully 6th is unlocked on these as well), automatic snow chains, high roof, and a wheelchair lift. In the pictures, all 4 show what I think is very little rust.
So, before I go to the dealer, I'd like to hear advice on the following:
What are people's thoughts on an RE300 for conversion? I have driven them in the past, but for their original purpose.
Outside of gross noises/clunks/whatever, what should I look/listen for on the test drive?
Any trouble spots to check on the bus/engine, etc.?
Can one tow at least 6500 lbs with one? My main concern is mounting the hitch. I don't know yet if the frame goes all the way to the bumper, or if the engine is in a sub-frame.
Are the snow chains any use outside of snow?
Any other comments that may be helpful?