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Old 01-28-2019, 07:30 AM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 2
Post Skoolie Newbies in the New Year

Hi all!

Posting for myself and my fiance here - we made a News Year's resolution to buy a school bus and move in after we get married in October (wedding first, then build - we can only do so much haha)! We've been deep into research mode and have been problem solving and strategically thinking about all of the things but recently came across a big problem.

We had our hearts set on a Thomas bus, the newer ones with the high windows because we love how much light they'd let in, but we've been hearing that these buses have tons of mechanical problems. Should we move on from the Thomas completely?

We have tons of other little questions that I'm sure will pop up on other threads but that's our first one on our journey to skoolie life. Happy to be here in the forum as it's been a wonderful resource so far.

Thanks for reading!

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Old 01-28-2019, 07:36 AM   #2
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EastCoastCB's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,700
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
The newer the bus the more problems they have with engines and electrical systems.
Its not just a Thomas issue though.
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Old 01-28-2019, 09:48 AM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Welcome to the Madhouse! --- You found the right place to get started. Read everything you can before diving in. Then...dive in.

And yes, "newer" buses, specifically any made from 2004 up are best avoided. The geniuses at the EPA forced everyone to install a bunch of electronic crap that was supposed to save the planet. is forcing people who ordinarily buy buses every 8-10 buy new ones about four times as often because none of the miracle electronics remains functional for more than 2 or 3 years.

Do the "Eco Math" on THAT brilliant thinking. NOT invest in it. Even fleet operators cannot afford to maintain them once they go south. That is why you see lots of newer units with very low mileage showing up for sale at fairly low prices. It is because anyone with any savvy at all...doesn't want them at any price.

They are NOT the deals they appear to be.

All of which is making it harder and more expensive to find decent, older units that don't have said electronics. Same thing with just engines.
Example: I wanted to buy a Cummins 4BT motor a few years back. I could have bought a new, "state-of-the-art" electronically controlled Cummins engine for HALF what I wound up paying for an older model. Why? Because the older, "all mechanical" engines are that much simpler to work on and maintain, plus they can be easily modified to increase their performance (HP & torque with improved mpg's) where the "modern" computerized engines are much more complex and expensive to maintain.

So...keep reading...and keep your eyes open for something pre-2004.
Best of luck on the hunt!
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Old 01-30-2019, 08:40 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 2
oh wow I had no idea! That is really great to know, and it puts us on a faster timeline to now purchase, I imagine, if everyone is snatching up those older models... Thank you so much for the info, it really helps.
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first post, newbies, question, thomas

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